Lab testing

Leamington Spa megalab hits 300k testing capacity in opening weeks

The new Covid-19 Rosalind Franklin laboratory was officially opened by the Health Secretary yesterday. Almost 300,000 Covid-19 tests have already been processed at the megalab in its opening weeks as part of the NHS Test and Trace network.

The world-leading science and infrastructure and genomic sequencing capabilities, are expected to play a critical role in the government’s ongoing response to the virus.

Over 500 staff are already employed at the lab in Leamington Spa, with more than 500 anticipated to join in the near future. Around 60% of the staff hired so far live within 30 miles of the site, which is predicted to increase, and be recognised as a major local employer. Up to 1,500 staff in total are projected to fill positions once the lab is fully staffed.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Chief Executive of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) Jenny Harries, met with staff, and saw the capabilities of the testing technology, including top of the range robotics - at the Rosalind Franklin laboratory which opened on 13 July.

Mr Javid said: “The new Rosalind Franklin laboratory is bringing together some of the world’s leading scientists and large scale, state-of-the-art testing infrastructure under one roof.

“Along with vaccinations, regular testing is playing an integral role in helping us manage this virus and will help ensure we are prepared for future pandemics. This megalab will soon be helping us not only process tests, but also detect the kind of variants that threaten our progress in living with Covid-19.

“The laboratory is also a huge boost for the local area creating employment opportunities and inspiring a new generation into careers in science and technology.”

It will be the biggest of its kind in the UK, rolling out pioneering new genotype assay testing in the coming months. This is thought to help scientists identify known variants of concern quickly, as well as genome sequencing to identify new mutations. This technology has already helped the UK prevent outbreaks as restrictions have been eased, such as deploying surge testing.

The laboratory is named in honour of Rosalind Franklin, who significantly contributed towards the current understanding of RNA sequencing, which is now a major tool in the efforts to combat variants. It hopes to create and upskill scientists through a programme of training, working closely with universities, to inspire a new generation to choose a career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

The first cohort of PhD students from the University of Warwick have started their placements at the lab as data scientists and bioscience leads, helping them develop experience with Covid-19 testing.

Chief Executive of the UKHSA, Jenny Harries, said: “The newly established UK Health Security Agency has been formed to help protect the UK not only against Covid-19, but from the health threats and pandemics of the future.

“This megalab is going to be right at the heart of our present and future battles against national health threats and it is already arming our exceptional scientists with the right testing and genomics infrastructure to manage the spread of Covid-19.”

NHE Sept/Oct 21

NHE Sept/Oct 21

Improving care for long-term conditions

Join us in our September/October edition of National Health Executive, as we explore a range of topics impacting and improving the care that we can deliver to patients, the facilities within which we deliver them, and the opportunities in the digital space to accent and evolve our care capabilities

Videos...

View all videos
National Health Executive Presents

National Health Executive Presents

NHE365 Virtual Festival: Digital Healthcare

The integration of new technology, such as using virtual outpatient appointments instead of face-to-face reviews of patients in the hospital. Adapting the ways in which our NHS workers serve people has been critical in continuing to provide high-quality treatment, a positive patient experience and preventing Covid-19 transmission during the pandemic. Our healthcare sector has the potential to transform the way we continue to provide essential services while also improving patient care. But how easy is the integration of these innovations into routine NHS practice?

On the 28th of October, at the NHE365 Virtual Hospitals & Technology Enabled Care online event, we will be discussing patient flow and experience, reducing waiting times, reducing the patient backlog and increasing technology adoption. Will you be attending? 

Finger on the Pulse

Ep 14. Health messaging is a science, Professor Craig Jackson

On Episode 14 of NHE's Finger on the Pulse podcast, we're joined by Professor Craig Jackson, Professor of Occupational Health Psychology
Birmingham City University to discuss the coronavirus pandemic, the health messaging around it and how those in power have missed a trick by overlooking the key role of psychology in informing the public of restrictions, measures and the ever-changing situation

More articles...

View all