Take a look at what our fantastic Faculty of Medical Sciences is doing to support the NHS in the fight against COVID-19. We are so immensely proud of the recent hard work, dedication and bravery of both staff and student volunteers.
FMS Join the NHS
Last week we sent the first members of our Faculty of Medical Sciences staff to the COVID-19 screening facility at the Freeman Hospital. Currently, ten more are enlisted to be trained and will step up to help NHS staff over the coming weeks. Those in this position are demonstrating true resilience and deserve our utmost respect so we will continue to support them however we can.
University Taxi for Screening Staff
A driving service, led by Research Administrator from our Centre for Ageing & Vitality Tracey Dryden, has been set up to support screening staff at the Freeman Hospital. Helping to get staff to and from work after long shifts, this service now eliminates the need for public transport and therefore, helps reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
A National Help
Our School of Medical Education supported on a national scale by lending 7 qPCR machines to the National COVID19 screening centre in Milton Keynes. These machines allow for the virus to be translated into DNA and then amplified, allowing us to identify very small amounts of the virus. Transported with the help of the Royal Navy, these machines will screen 1000s of samples from both patients and critical staff for the virus.
Alongside qPCR screening machines, our Medical School are also building up an inventory of medical instruments to be loaned to support screening efforts. With the help of other University faculties, like the Faculty of Science, Agriculture and Engineering, this additional resource will be a great help.
Front Line Volunteers
Over 700 of our Newcastle University community have now volunteered to help combat COVID-19. Working on the front line alongside NHS staff, their sheer bravery does not go unmissed.
Further Equipment Donations
Also borrowing equipment are the many research groups from our Medical School, in the form of RNA extraction reagents. Currently, there is a global shortage of various reagents and some supply lines are unreliable. Our loan to the NHS will mean the screening facility can be resilient against possible supply problems.
Research Associate Dr Sarah Rice (pictured), kindly agreed to keep track of all reagents and instruments that have been and will be donated so they can be reimbursed once the crisis is over.
Screening Kit Checks
Our Medical School’s latest step is to validate many of the available commercial COVID-19 screening kits. All made possible by Professor David Lydall, Professor Fiona Oakley, Professor Jelena Mann and Professor Julie Irving, the teams are setting up a qPCR-based validation pipeline in the Leech Building.
Their efforts are crucial as it will allow the screening centre to switch to other screening solutions if the current supply line fails; adding significant resilience to the work being done.
An Extra Pair of Hands
Helping on the wards and also in homes... Our medical students have set up the North East group of ‘Medical Students Helping Hands’ which is a nationwide initiative offering NHS staff help with childcare, shopping and animal care across the region. As health workers are facing increasing pressures with long hours and last-minute changes to their working schedules, our students can offer a helping hand to those in need.
Every day there are more brilliant examples across our campus of staff and students supporting the COVID-19 effort. We are so incredibly proud of our community giving a helping hand to the NHS at this challenging time. By joining forces, we are stronger together. #WeAreNCL
Discover more about Newcastle University's efforts against COVID-19.