All staff across three NHS trusts in north-west England being urgently tested

Mass testing rolled out across Stockport, Bolton and Blackpool after rise in cases in region

All staff across three NHS trust areas in north-west England are in the process of being rapidly tested for coronavirus to control the spread of the disease.

There is growing concern in the region after cases rose in Lancashire and tracers were unable to get in touch with thousands of people who may have been in contact with someone with Covid-19. It is understood that the staff mass testing is being rolled out across Bolton, Stockport and Blackpool foundation trusts.

“In line with previous PHE/chief medical officer advice, additional staff testing is sometimes deployed on a precautionary basis,” an NHS North West spokesperson said. “As usual, staff who test positive will be given support to self-isolate in line with government rules.”


Stockport NHS foundation trust said a “small number” of patients and staff had been identified as having the virus and that testing would take place over the next five days. “We have begun a process of rapid staff testing for Covid-19 to strengthen our efforts to prevent and control the spread of the infection across Stepping Hill hospital,” a spokesperson said.

“Changes to lockdown arrangements across parts of the north of England reflect the prevalence of the infection in our local communities, and recently we have identified a small number of infections amongst staff and patients.”

They added: “We have taken rapid action to safeguard ourselves and the people who need our care. On Friday evening we began the rapid testing programme that over the next five days will see all our hospital staff tested.

“Staff found to have the infection will be required to self-isolate in line with national guidelines.”

It is not the first time that a trust has ordered the rapid testing of all staff. On Tuesday, in north Wales, plans were announced for the testing of all staff at the general hospital in Wrexham after cases spiked by a dozen. And a fortnight ago, all 9,000 hospital staff in east Kent were set to be tested amid fears that transmission at the hospital may have contributed to particularly high death rates. It reportedly found that 15 staff members had the virus.

There is growing pressure to routinely test all NHS staff – a logical means of controlling the virus in hospital – with Jeremy Hunt, the former health secretary, among those critical of the failure to routinely test all NHS staff, but the government has said it is focused on testing care home staff.

“NHS staff want to know they will get the weekly testing that has now been offered to care home staff so they can be confident they won’t pass on infections to patients,” Hunt wrote in a letter to Matt Hancock last week.

“The chief medical officer for England [Prof Chris Whitty] says he supports this in principle so there should be no further delays given the complicated logistics necessary to set it up ahead of winter.”


Mattha Busby and Josh Halliday

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Covid lockdowns to be eased for over 1m people in north-west England
Households will be able to mix in parts of Greater Manchester, Lancashire and West Yorkshire

Josh Halliday North of England correspondent

28, Aug, 2020 @5:22 PM

Article image
Covid: Greater Manchester running out of intensive care beds, leak reveals
NHS document shows no spare beds for patients in Salford, Stockport and Bolton

Denis Campbell and Peter Walker

18, Oct, 2020 @7:18 PM

Article image
Councils in north-west England ask for Covid lockdown to remain as cases rise
Restrictions were due to be lifted but Bolton and Trafford leaders are alarmed at high infection rate

Josh Halliday and Helen Pidd

01, Sep, 2020 @2:08 PM

Article image
What are the new lockdown rules in northern England?
All you need to know about the updated coronavirus measures affecting more than 4m people

Simon Murphy Political correspondent

31, Jul, 2020 @1:12 PM

Article image
Local Covid lockdowns expected to end in parts of north-west England
Health secretary set to lift restrictions in areas of Greater Manchester and Lancashire

Amy Walker

28, Aug, 2020 @1:19 PM

Article image
Coronavirus UK live: Sharma announces vaccine taskforce; hospital death toll rises to 14,576 – as it happened
Daily UK deaths rise by 847; Matt Hancock unable to guarantee hospital gown supplies this weekend; Rishi Sunak extends furlough scheme

Andrew Sparrow, Lucy Campbell and Gregory Robinson

17, Apr, 2020 @5:38 PM

Article image
Heart attack patients told to make own way to hospital as Covid surge hits northern England
NHS under pressure as growth rate in hospitalisations more than doubles compared with London

Andrew Gregory Health editor

04, Jan, 2022 @6:17 PM

Article image
Oldham faces tougher restrictions but is spared full Covid lockdown
Wigan and parts of east Lancashire to be have restrictions lifted before rest of region, MPs claim

Helen Pidd North of England editor

21, Aug, 2020 @2:30 PM

Article image
Hancock: most Bolton Covid patients eligible for jab but haven’t had it
Health secretary’s comments come amid mounting concerns over spread of Indian B.1.617.2 variant

Jessica Elgot Deputy political editor

16, May, 2021 @11:40 AM

Article image
Two more NHS trusts declare critical incidents over staff Covid absences
Morecambe Bay and Blackpool trusts join at least six others that have recently issued alerts

Maya Wolfe-Robinson

04, Jan, 2022 @1:39 PM