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Students shine a light on new methods of Covid-19 testing


A collaboration between the University of Wolverhampton and Black Country Pathology Services has led to the successful opening of a Covid LAMP (Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification) testing facility at NHS Royal Wolverhampton Trust’s New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton.

The National School of Healthcare Science, Institute of Biomedical Science and Royal College of Pathologists worked collaboratively with NHS England and NHS Improvement to develop a framework to train students to test thousands of samples from asymptomatic individuals in an effort to reduce the spread of Covid-19 within four Black Country NHS hospital trusts.

Frontline NHS staff fighting the virus are being protected because of early diagnosis of Covid positive cases, breaking the transmission chain.

55 Biomedical Science and Bioscience third-year degree students and graduates were recruited recently to join the workforce to run the new Covid-19 LAMP service.

Students will be issued with a Certificate of Completion of Covid-19 LAMP work placement, demonstrating their contribution to the response to the pandemic.

Jessica Ramachsantheran, 23 from Wolverhampton, who is studying for a Biomedical Science degree in the University’s Faculty of Science and Engineering, said: “By being a part of the COVID NHS workforce I have incorporated skills learnt from my Biomedical Science laboratory sessions into everyday practice within the LAMP lab, as well as learning new skills relating to UKAS, ISO and pathology SOPs. I have received extensive training in all areas of the pathology service from specimen reception through to pre-analytical processing; this has allowed me to widen my scientific knowledge within a healthcare setting.

“Working within part of a diverse team within the LAMP laboratory has been a great opportunity to learn from individuals within a variety of roles, as well as developing translational skills which can be utilised for future career options. Being a part of the COVID NHS workforce has not only been beneficial for me as a student, but also for the patients using this service, which has inspired me to further my studies and training in Biomedical Science.”

Dr Liz O'Gara, Head of Quality in the Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University of Wolverhampton, said: "The commitment from the students, while still finishing their final year studies, cannot be underestimated and has been crucial to the success of the set-up of this facility.

"For many this will be their first experience of working in a pathology laboratory setting. This is a superb opportunity for our students, who are now gaining invaluable work experience and developing their employability skills to help them towards their future careers."

Lorna Taylor, Principal Clinical Scientist at Black Country Pathology Services, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to add a brand new technology to our COVID testing service. The aim of this weekly saliva test, is to identify and isolate asymptomatic healthcare staff before they unknowingly spread the virus. With new strains emerging, it is vital that regular testing occurs across all four NHS Trusts within our network, even after staff have been vaccinated.

“We were fortunate that a brand new Pathology laboratory extension was made available to house this new service, helping us to deliver this project within the space a few weeks. For many of the students, this was their first opportunity to work in an NHS Pathology laboratory, so not only did they have to cope with working in a new environment, they also had to adapt to the constant changes associated with implementing a new testing service. I couldn’t be more proud of all the students, Biomedical Scientists and teams across the network who have been responsible for making this new service a huge success.”

Anyone interested in studying in the University’s School of Sciences should register for one of the University’s forthcoming Virtual Open Days.



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