More than 500,000 Covid-19 tests processed by North West London Pathology

North West London Pathology (NWLP) has reached the milestone of processing more than half a million Covid-19 PCR tests, providing vital information to help keep our hospitals and communities safe through timely isolation and management.

Delivering pathology services for the partnership between Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust), across the 7 hospital sites and beyond NWLP have processed 513,518* polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test samples for Covid-19 since 11 March 2020. These tests are the ‘gold standard’ for Covid-19 testing, providing accurate information about the Covid-19 status of patients and staff in north west London.

Imperial College Healthcare has offered PCR testing to all staff and their household contacts with symptoms since the earliest stages of the pandemic as a key part of its response. The Trust also uses regular PCR testing for patients to ensure clinicians have knowledge of patients’ Covid-19 status and to help keep patient pathways safe – all inpatients are tested on admission and regularly throughout their stay with us to ensure that any potential infections are carefully managed to avoid outbreaks.

Saghar Missaghian-Cully, managing director of North West London Pathology said: “When the new coronavirus first became part of our lives in early 2020, we knew little about it but it was clear that an effective approach to testing would be key for managing the disease in the long term. We developed our own local strategy which was able to draw on the expertise at NWLP, whilst also fostering innovation and research to make a difference in the national and global fight against Covid-19.”

As well as continuing a regular approach to testing for staff and patients across north west London, NWLP has also led the way on innovative testing approaches such as the use of robotic technology and the development of rapid PCR testing for emergency pathways where a rapid result is crucial.

Dr Bob Klaber, director of strategy and innovation, said: “Rolling out a large-scale testing approach has proved challenging, both nationally and locally. North West London Pathology have played a vital role in our Trust’s response, and the sector response, to Covid-19, rising to an enormous challenge and utilising skills and innovation along the way.”

The viral polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for coronavirus is one of the most common in current use. A sample is taken by placing a swab into your nose and/or throat, then placing it in a test tube and sending it to the lab to be analysed. The PCR test looks for evidence of the virus in your body right now, by detecting the presence of genetic material in the virus called RNA.

*data correct on 23 March 2021