testing means lower fatality rates from coronavirus because it allows
detection of Covid-19 even in patients who suffer few or no symptoms,
and who have a much better chance of survival.
nose and the back of the throat are the two sites where the virus
replicates. Swab tests are taken to the pathology lab and used to
match the genetic material captured with the genetic code of
staff taking the samples need to wear personal protective equipment
including gloves, gowns, masks and face shields.. I was horrified to
hear from a friend working as a hospital doctor that they are short
of these PPEs. But never mind because Boris Johnson assures us that
mass testing for Coronavirus is ‘coming down the track’ and will
be taking place ‘as soon as possible’.
I wrote yesterday, pathology labs in Germany have been conducting
about 160,000 coronavirus tests every week. In the UK they average
less than half that. And the pathology labs which undertake all this
have been undergoing privatisation for over twenty years.
Tony Blair / Gordon Brown governments reduced the number of hospitals
that had their own pathology services and initiated their
privatisation. Under the ‘hub and spoke’ model NHS trusts were
encouraged into partnerships with private companies.
Clinitician, Denise Cooke, at Frimley NHS Foundation Trust has said,
“The big difference with an NHS-led pathology service is the
add-ons you get with it … So you absolutely get a clinically-led
service and that is not something you have to contract for or buy,
that is just the nature of the beast … On top of that you get all
the other things the NHS offers; so there is a very supportive
training and education programme … And then there is the ethos of
it. The public sector is about doing good for the public, it is about
making good use of taxpayers’ money for the public good … I think
there is a different ethos in the private sector … I’d say 99.9%
of people working in NHS pathology don’t do it for the money –
they have some connection with the NHS and what it strives for and
its reason for being.”
are just a few of the private companies involved today with our
(Serco) who have been found to overcharge the NHS for diagnostic
testing amid allegations of cost-cutting and clinical failings.
Senior consultants have claimed that staff cuts and a lack of
investment since privatisation have left some laboratories close to
disaster. One claimed that Viapath had an “inherent inability… to
understand that you cannot cut corners and put cost saving above
Pathology Partnerships who were accused by Public Health England of
running NHS labs with quality weaknesses. They concluded that: 'A
number of working practices, particularly within the laboratory,
compromise service quality and potentially patient safety'.
who were excluded from providing pathology services to Royal Free
London and UCLH as the company lied - the company said it was in the
process of developing a laboratory close to the two hospitals which
would meet the requirements of the tender, but this was not true.
private companies involved today in NHS labs are, Alliance Medical,
InHealth, Health Services Laboratory, Sodexho, Life Healthcare, The
Doctors Laboratory Ltd and Mediscan Diagnostic Services. There are
survey of 103 histopathology departments conducted in 2017 by the
Royal College of Pathologists, found that only 3% said they had
enough staff to meet the current clinical demand. 45% of departments
had to outsource work, while half of the departments were forced to
use more expensive temporary workers.
worry about what is really ‘coming down the tracks’.