27th April 2020

British Library collaborates with UCLH and The Crick to increase COVID-19 testing

NHS and social care staff can now be swabbed for COVID-19 at a drive-through facility based at the British Library’s St Pancras site.

The drive-through facility is led by the matron of the Royal National ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) and Eastman Dental Hospitals, part of University College London Hospitals (UCLH). The service is a collaboration between UCLH, the Francis Crick Institute, which is adjacent to the Library, and Health Service Laboratories.

The temporary facility is in the staff car park at the rear of the British Library’s building at St Pancras, which is currently closed to the public. Dental nurses from the hospital carry out the swabs which are then taken next door to the repurposed Crick Labs for testing.

Fiona Beacham, head dental nurse, said: “I didn’t think twice when the request came through for this new team. I really wanted to get involved and use my skills and learn new ones to hopefully make a difference. “

Jill Brindle, also a head dental nurse said: “I know my family have always been proud of what I do for a living, but over the last week or so, I think I have surpassed all their expectations.”

Patrick Dixon, Head of Estates at the British Library, said: “Our colleagues and service partners have worked closely with UCLH and the Francis Crick Institute to help deliver this facility and we’re very pleased to be able to support the ongoing struggle against COVID-19 in such a direct and tangible way.”

A further swabbing service is run from the Royal National ENT and Eastman Dental Hospitals. The repurposed laboratories at the Crick carry out the tests on the swabs to confirm whether or not staff have COVID-19. As soon as staff are confirmed as not having COVID-19, they can return to work, a process which normally takes 24 hours.

The new drive-through service means more key workers and members of their households with COVID-19 symptoms can be tested.

With many different teams at UCLH and our partners involved in setting up the service, Jane Cadman, Head of Occupational Health & Wellbeing said: “The staff testing service quickly expanded to meet further demands. This has been developed with a #Oneteam approach supporting our colleagues to provide testing on a much larger scale.”

Charles Swanton, is Group Leader at the Crick and oncologist at UCLH who set up the facility with Steve Gamblin, the Crick’s Director of Scientific Platforms, after witnessing first-hand the urgent need for additional tests. He said: “Increased testing is vital to ease the pressures facing healthcare staff tackling COVID-19 on the front line. It has been hugely rewarding working with such amazing UCL and UCLH staff and Crick scientists to set up this service. It will help us carry out more tests even faster, as we get swabs into the Crick labs without delay, and results back to staff performing lifesaving duties.”

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