This GP surgery was one of the first surgery’s invited to join the COVID-19 Testing Network to receive testing for their frontline staff. The practice has 10,000 patients and currently didn’t know where they stood in terms of staff having COVID-19.
Some of their staff also work at other frontline facilities with vulnerable patients. The test results showed that one of their frontline staff who works both at the practice and another facility had tested positive for COVID-19. This individual was only showing very mild symptoms of COVID-19.
What were the concerns and problems?
The main concern was without the testing conducted by the COVID-19 Volunteer Testing Network this individual may not have known that they had COVID-19 and could have passed the virus on to other, more vulnerable patients. The illness may also have impacted staff members at the GP practice, reducing staffing capacity.
Other concerns in terms of the GP practice included staff at the practice not knowing whether they had been exposed to the virus and needed to isolate. Also, there was increased anxiety for staff members in the at-risk group who were still working at the practice.
How is the testing process organised, and how effective is it?
The swabbing process was easy for staff to conduct themselves, and there was a set time when samples were collected. The results came back within three hours, and this speedy turnaround meant that decisions could be made quickly in terms of staffing but also caring for patients. For staff, these fast turnaround times meant that it took away a large amount of anxiety.
What difference has the COVID-19 Volunteer Testing Network had on the practice?
The testing conducted by the COVID-19 Volunteer Testing Network has made a massive difference for both individuals and the GP Surgery.
For the individual who works at both the practice and at another frontline facility and who tested positive for COVID-19, it meant that he was able to self-isolate quickly so as not to put other staff or patients at risk. Without the testing and due to the extremely mild symptoms, the individual is unlikely to have self-isolated. But with the testing, it enabled them to understand what was wrong and set the necessary precautions, in turn, saving passing on the virus to staff members but also vulnerable patients at the other frontline facility.
The continuous testing also enabled this individual to gain an understanding of where in the COVID-19 process they were. Their initial test came back as a weak positive, where they isolated and then a further test result showed a full positive. Due to the testing, they gained an understanding that they had the virus from an early stage in the COVID-19 progression and, therefore stopping the spread. Without, the testing this wouldn’t have been possible, and it would be likely to be passed on.
For the GP practice, it was beneficial having the testing service as it helped other people in the clinic know when they can come back to work or when to self-isolate. It was also reassuring for staff members as they had a better understanding of where they stood in the light of the virus, in particular for staff who were vulnerable.
“In a time with so much uncertainty and anxiety, testing provided our GP practice with reassuring information that has allowed us to do jobs more productively, efficiently and safely.”
“The testing allowed me to remove myself from work when I may not have done so and therefore protected the vulnerable individuals who I work with and causing further staffing issues.”
Mike Fischer CBE
"If other labs could join the effort we could quickly scale to providing tens of thousands of tests a day in complement to the central program."