NHS and social care staff can now be tested for Covid19 in Salford thanks to a marathon effort over the Easter weekend.
All partners in Salford's health and social care system set up the drive through testing centre at the A J Bell stadium, Eccles in just 24 hours over the holiday.
Teams of NHS and council workers gave up their Easter weekend to get the facility up and running. Testing is by prior appointment only and up to 120 tests a day will be available initially with results available within 72 hours. Safe transport will be provided to the Salford site for those who need it thanks to Taxi Transfers which provide closed passenger cabins.
Priority will initially be given to staff from Salford Royal Foundation Trust and health and social care staff who are within the first five days of showing coronavirus symptoms, or who are self-isolating due to family members being unwell. Family members who also show symptoms will be tested.
The aim is to reduce the spread of the virus among frontline health and care staff and people they work with and keep essential staff in work unless they test positive for the virus.
City Mayor Paul Dennett said: "I am really proud of the efforts made by a team of NHS and council employees. They gave up their Easter break to set the testing centre up and support the NHS and our care sector and are now managing traffic flow. The testing site at the AJ Bell was developed following the success of the Salford Royal Foundation Trust testing site the week before.
"This is truly a team effort. Staff from Salford Primary Care Together are providing the swabbing, while teams from Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust do the testing. Results are provided by Salford City Council's public health protection team and Corporate Nursing colleagues at Salford Royal Foundation Trust who advise those tested what their results mean for them.
"Working together in this way demonstrates the true Spirit of Salford and the strength of our partnership."
Dr Pete Turkington, Salford Royal Chief Officer and Medical Director, said: "We are really pleased to be helping to safely return health and social care professionals back into their roles. Whether this is in a hospital, community service, GP practice, care home or one of the many other settings, we want to support people to get back to doing what they want to do - caring for their patients and service users."
Steve Dixon, Chief Accountable Officer for Salford CCG, said: "Our priority for this local testing facility is to help end the uncertainty of whether our NHS and social care staff need to stay at home or whether they can return to work and return to what they do best; protecting patients and saving lives.
"The immense effort that has gone into mobilising this staff testing facility and turning it into a reality cannot be underestimated and we know having this facility in Salford is going to be crucial in our fight against COVID-19."
The Salford centre complements the Greater Manchester testing centre at Manchester airport. It was set up to reduce travel and allow people who feel unwell to stay local.