‘Lack of qualified staff’ responsible for ‘predictable’ delay in opening Newport Covid-19 lab

Photo by HM Treasury and licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

A lack of qualified staff has been identified as the reason why laboratories to process Covid-19 tests around the UK, including one in Newport, have not opened.

The Welsh Government had claimed in July that the Lighthouse Labs facility would be up and running by the end of August.

However, as of today the labratory has not yet opened. The Welsh Government is making use of the Lighthouse Lab network as well as the UK-wide testing system.

According to an investigation by the Daily Mail, jobs processing the Covid-19 tests require a biomedical graduate registered with the HCPC, the lab industry’s equivalent of the General Medical Council.

As a result there has been a “big shortage” of staff available to work at the labs, Allan Wilson, President of the Institute of Biomedical Science, said.

 

‘Small pool’

“When the Lighthouse Laboratories were built, they were originally run using a lot of academic staff and PhD students who were free to take on work because the Universities were shut,” Allan Wilson, President of the Institute of Biomedical Science, told the Daily Mail.

“‘Now those people have all had to go back to delivering courses and studying, so in addition to the new labs needing staff, the existing ones are also hiring and there’s a big shortage. This should of course have been predictable, but for some reason no one saw it coming.”

The staffing crisis peaked as demand for tests increased earlier this month, exacerbated by the fact that NHS laboratories, which process Covid-19 tests administered in hospitals, are also hiring staff.

“‘There are around 120 NHS labs which for months have been doing mostly Covid work but are now having to deal with the wider health service opening up again, so also need to hire qualified staff,” Allan Wilson said. “Everyone is fishing in the same small pool.”

The Newport lab will be processing tests from England as well as Wales.

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