Posted: Wed 19th Aug 2020

North Wales coronavirus testing lab set for 24/7 operation as minister defends decision to locate all six new ‘hot labs’ in South Wales

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Aug 19th, 2020

A regional coronavirus testing lab in North Wales is set to become a 24/7 operation, however it appears it will not be able to turn around results inside four hours like new “hot labs” created elsewhere in Wales.

At yesterday’s weekly Welsh Government briefing we asked the Health Minister Vaughan Gething about the announcement around six new facilities located entirely in the south of the country.

The labs are being located at acute hospitals and will have rapid testing equipment to free up staff. They will operate from 8am to 10pm, seven days a week.

The announcement did include funding for new staff and equipment for the Public Health Wales regional laboratory based at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd in Bodelwyddan that opened in May, so it can operate 24/7 to cover North Wales.

Prior to the facility opening, swabs were being couriered to the south for testing.

We pointed out to the Health Minister that the most northern lab was due to be 30 miles away from where he was taking questions in Cardiff Bay.

We asked Mr Gething for the reasoning behind that location, and whether North Wales has equivalent resources, specifically if the region has a four hour turn around time already.

Although the centre is based at the district general hospital in Bodelwyddan, he continually referred to it as being in neighbouring Rhyl.

He said: “We look to the picture across the whole country where our population centres are.

“It means that of the three regional centres, Rhyl being the one for North Wales, there is an increase in lab capacity there that should meet the needs of the people of North Wales.

“We’re making sure it has to meet the needs of people in every part of the country.”

Although not mentioning the four hour turn around, he said: “That lab in Rhyl will be 24 hours a day seven days a week.

“We are moving equipment from other centres in Wales to go to Rhyl to make sure that it’s properly equipped, and there will of course, be further recruitment to make sure that centre is able to provide that 24 hours a day, seven days a week service.”

“People in North Wales are getting a deal that is equivalent to any and every other part of Wales.

“As I said earlier, I’m not just responsible for North Wales, I’m responsible for the whole country, and I take my nationwide responsibilities seriously.

“I would certainly not make a decision to de-prioritise the needs of people in North Wales, far from it.”

Below is a map of the new ‘hot lab’ locations:

 

 

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