Overcoming COVID-19 challenges: Deploying mobile testing laboratories

Overcoming COVID-19 challenges: Deploying mobile testing laboratories

Highlights

  • Recruited 197+ clinical and logistical staff in eight weeks
  • Delivered 14,400 hours of bespoke training
  • Collected 239,611 COVID-19 samples

The challenge

Timely and effective COVID-19 testing was critical in identifying virus hotspots and reducing infection rates to protect local communities. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) required an operator to provide the scientific, logistical and personnel capability to support a fleet of mobile testing laboratories to be deployed across high-incidence areas in England and Wales within hours’ notice.   

Due to the pioneering nature of the project, Acacium Group had to;

  • Recruit skilled healthcare professionals at the peak of the pandemic
  • Achieve scientific validation and verification in accordance with ISO15189
  • Secure DHSC vehicle approval
  • Ensure the staff were fully trained and mobilised at short notice

Why Acacium Group

As the UK’s largest healthcare staffing provider and a trusted partner to the NHS for more than 40 years, Acacium Group had already supported the provision of 1.9m COVID-19 vaccines across the UK.

DHSC were confident in Acacium Group’s staffing and operational capabilities, supported by a compressive proposal to work with Remote Medical International (RMI), a business with extensive operational experience in high-risk, complex environments.

The solution

Working in collaboration, Espirita, part of Acacium Group, and Remote Medical International (RMI) established a project team to deliver fully staffed state-of-the-art mobile laboratories.

Calling on their extensive network, Espirita, recruited 80 logistical and support staff and more than 155 scientific and non-scientific staff within eight weeks. Once assembled, these teams, underwent bespoke training with the support of HCA Laboratories, to guarantee the safe and effective deployment of mobile labs in COVID-19 hotspots across the UK.

The mobile laboratory units were adapted in accordance with ISO15189 verification and processes and procedures were implemented to protect the validity of samples, providing a reliable view of regional infection rates. This data was therefore able to support the calculation of the UK’s COVID-19 R rating, providing visibility of national infection rates.

The first approved mobile testing laboratory was deployed in South East England in September 2021. The DHSC-approved of the on-going training programme and comprehensive recruitment process, ensuring the labs were available seven days a week with no downtime from staff shortages.

Impact

Rapid mobilisation

Acacium Group successfully supported 197 staff members and 190 clinical staff to ensure the smooth running of the deployed vehicles. Clinical staff worked 135,440 hours throughout the course of the project and gathered 239,611 samples.

Bespoke training and risk management

Throughout the first four months of operations, the project achieved over 14,400 hours of training to guarantee the safe and effective deployment of staff. Of 110,409 samples processed, 32,956 positives were identified, safeguarding the operations of key infrastructure and government functions during the pandemic.

Scalable and responsive

The flexibility and scalability of Acacium Group’s workforce solutions allowed mobile testing units to be sent to critical confidential deployments, where enhanced disclosures and staff vetting were required at short notice.

This partnership positioned the teams uniquely to support the NHS in the mammoth task of managing the impact of the pandemic. While working together, the project teams processed in the excess of 200,000 Covid tests, delivering results in a turnaround time of less than three hours; ultimately delivering a service which protected the health of thousands of people from key workers to government ministers and everyone in between. The success of the partnership demonstrates the valuable capacities and capabilities that solutions providers like RMI and Acacium Group can deliver at times of need”.
Julian Rawles, Managing Director, UK arm of RMI

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