Some of the lab team involved in the running of the new regional testing facility.
By Lucy Ashton
The first of three regional hub laboratories set up to increase Scotland’s testing capacity has opened in Glasgow today.
The Glasgow (West) hub laboratory is located at Gartnavel Hospital, Anniesland, on a site formerly occupied by the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service, and will be managed by NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde.
The site will be staffed by around 60 people with initial capacity to process 6,000 tests a day, using four Thermofisher Scientific Amplitude testing systems, which are among the first of their kind in Europe.
The Amplitude systems can analyse up to 3,000 samples in a 12-hour shift using a highly automated molecular diagnostic system.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman, left, visited the Glasgow site on Saturday ahead of the go-live date to meet with and thank the staff involved for their efforts.
Establishment of the three hubs is being led by National Services Scotland (NSS), and the remaining sites at Foresterhill in Aberdeen (North) and Lauriston Place in Edinburgh (East) are on track to open in the coming weeks.
Ms Freeman said: “I am very pleased to announce the opening the first of our three regional laboratory hubs, which will provide a 24/7 testing service, and significantly increase Scotland’s testing capacity by around 22,000 per day once all three are fully operational.
“These hubs will prioritise care home staff testing in the first instance with the additional capacity they provide, as well as supporting health boards to manage winter demand.
“The establishment of this hub has been an exceptional project in terms of the rapid recruitment and training of new laboratory staff, and the complexity of equipment involved, and I want to recognise our local partners NSS and NHSGGC for delivering this within a very short timeframe.
“Scotland’s Test & Protect programme has a critical role to play in suppressing the virus, and I’m grateful to all of those involved at every level for their continued hard work.”
Arwel Williams, Director for Diagnostics and Regional Services for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: “This new COVID19 testing laboratory will play a crucial role in the fight against the virus. It’s a testament to the hard work, knowledge and enthusiasm of the staff involved in the design, build and operation of the new laboratory, that we’ve been able to go-live with the new testing capacity so quickly.
“As the number of tests which take place across the region increases, capacity in this new laboratory will allow us to scale up analysis as required. This ensures the Test and Protect system is as effective as possible and that we’re able to continue effectively treating patients across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, while also minimising the transmission of the virus.
Mary Morgan, NSS Deputy Chief Executive said: “This is an important milestone in helping to increase laboratory testing capacity in Scotland. Colleagues from across NSS and the clinical teams within the host health boards have worked at pace to ensure IT systems, the fit-out, equipment and staff are all in place within a short period of time. This has been a tremendous team effort and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved.”