West Yorkshire Prepared, the region’s Local Resilience Forum, has been working closely with West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership (also known as an integrated care system), to ensure keyworkers in the region can gain quick and easy access to vital covid-19 testing, enabling them to return to work as soon as possible.

As part of the Government’s UK-wide plan to increase testing for thousands more NHS workers and other key workers, testing capacity has been scaled up across the area to protect the vulnerable, support keyworkers, and ultimately save lives.

Martin Barkley, Chief Executive of Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust and CEO Lead for West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership’s key worker staff virus testing programme, said: “We have scaled up our efforts to boost testing capacity and have expanded the offer to a wider group of keyworkers and household members, including for example, local authority colleagues; the prison service; fire and rescue service; the police; keyworker teachers; key transport workers; and mental health, primary care, independent care providers and community health services.”

West Yorkshire Prepared partners have helped in the facilitation and establishment of test centres across the region. Two drive-through testing facilities have been established at Temple Green in Leeds and Bradford University. These are in addition to four satellite services at Halifax, Huddersfield, Keighley and Wakefield.

Martin added: “Having four satellites, in addition to regional testing centres in Leeds and Bradford, has allowed more people to be tested much closer to home, and has provided the opportunity for local teams to discuss with them what the test involves. It has helped more staff return to work more quickly.’

A network of mobile testing units (MTUs) has also been set up and will be travelling the country to reach sites where there is most demand for testing. Ten potential locations will be identified in West Yorkshire for the MTUs.

Robin Tuddenham, co-Chair of West Yorkshire Prepared, said: “Having a wider network of testing sites has allowed more people to be tested much closer to home, reducing the need to travel further afield. As we enhance our testing, it will be essential that there is a fully integrated process between this and the development of contract tracing to reduce the risk of transmission of Covid19. The Local Resilience Forum and our Health and Care Partnership will have a critical role to play in ensuring these interventions are effective and save lives.”

A national appointment system has also been established allowing keyworkers to book an appointment themselves by visiting a dedicated website. Staff working in hospitals and some other NHS organisations may also be referred for virus testing through hospital facilities. A system has also been put in place for those keyworkers who are too unwell to travel to a test centre, enabling them to request a home testing kit through a dedicated portal.

The number of tests is additional to the current facilities with NHS laboratories in our local hospitals.

For further guidance around Covid-19 please visit www.westyorkshireprepared.org.uk or follow them on Facebook (@WYPrepared) or Twitter (@WYRForum).

You can find out more about West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership at www.wyhpartnership.co.uk or twitter @wyhpartnership

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