Coronavirus – information for service users

18th March, 2020

Re: Covid-19 pandemic

Dear colleagues,

You are all obviously aware of the unprecedented situation we find ourselves in with the current pandemic. We would like to reassure you that HMDS is taking action to ensure we will be able to continue to deliver a diagnostic service throughout this period.

At present, we are processing all samples as usual. Any samples from patients who have confirmed infection with Covid-19 or who are suspected of infection should be identified as such on the request form and labelled as high risk. Our current risk assessment, based on the most recent government guidelines, allows us to continue to process these samples with extra precautions but clearly it is important that this is highlighted to staff so the appropriate procedures can be followed.

If staffing is impacted significantly by illness or self-isolation, we may have to move to prioritising tests which will have clinical impact. To enable us to manage the workload effectively, we ask for your assistance in identifying samples or tests to us which require urgent processing. Please make sure this is only done in cases where the result is required to make treatment decisions. We expect a drop-off in the numbers of routine, non-urgent referrals to happen naturally as a consequence of the current guidance for self-isolation and social distancing but also ask you to please consider not sending non-urgent samples for testing at this time if possible.

There may well be an increase in turn-around times for some assays, particularly for some more complex molecular testing. We will continue to keep you updated as to what, if anything, is impacted. If there are groups of non-urgent tests which we need to begin deferring due to lack of capacity, please be assured we will still be preparing and storing appropriate material to allow these assays to be performed at a later timepoint.

We will communicate further updates directly to you all via e-mail and will also put this information on our website (http://hmds.info/coronavirus-information-for-service-users). We also would like to hear from you if there are any particular problems caused by the current situation you are experiencing related to our service we may be unaware of.

Kind regards,

Ruth & Catherine

Ruth de Tute
HMDS Scientific Lead
Catherine Cargo
HMDS Clinical Lead