A care home giant is trialling a new rapid response Covid-19 test in Tayside after becoming frustrated with months of delays and lost results.
Balhousie Care Group are experimenting with the new on-site test that gives results after 30 minutes at their St Ronan’s facility in Dundee.
The anti-gen nasal swab tests, which uses lateral flow devices (LFDs), are being trialled on 100 staff members at the Dundee facility and Wheatlands in Bonnybridge.
The move by Balhousie come after the organisation complained to the Scottish Government that the current turnaround time for staff PCR (polymerase chain reaction) swabs was a week.
The group claim there were often results delayed by a further four to seven days with hundreds lost in the process.
Jill Kerr, group chief executive officer of Balhousie Care Group, said: “Since schools and universities returned at the end of August, we have experienced significant issues with delays and non-return of tests.
“We have been in regular contact with the Scottish Government to share our frustrations and propose solutions to these issues, including rapid response testing using LFDs.”
Balhousie stressed that each of the trials was being run in parallel with the regular staff mass testing that is taking place in its homes.
The new solution is a software system run by Test Assurance Group (TAG) which has spent seven months developing a platform allowing on-site testing.
Jill said: We are very much at trial stage and, realising that the current PCR tests are the gold standard in terms of accuracy, we aim to continue to compare and contrast results between PCR and rapid response tests.
“What we would like now is for Scottish Government to closely consider our results, and for rapid response LFDs to be the primary mode of testing for care home staff.”
NHS Tayside are also increasing their testing capacity with the health board’s laboratory teams are now offering testing for coronavirus 24 hours a day.
The new system means urgent Covid-19 tests are in place for suspected cases to ensure patients can quickly sent to the most appropriate clinical area.
Dr David Connell, respiratory consultant and NHS Tayside’s clinical lead for winter planning, said: “Rapid testing for viruses such as Covid-19 and flu are a key part of this year’s winter plan at NHS Tayside.
“Being able to quickly determine which patients coming into hospital have these serious infections allows us to safely treat them in areas of the hospital dedicated to caring for people with these illnesses.
“This not only helps patients get the care they need more quickly, but also prevents spread of infection within the hospital.”
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