North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust (NCIC) are celebrating Biomedical Science Day on Thursday 11th June by shining a spotlight on the work their teams do and how they have supported and continue to support the COVID -19 pandemic.
Biomedical Science is the way we make diagnosis using biology and chemistry in healthcare. In north Cumbria our laboratories undertake the analysis of literally millions of samples every year and are internationally renowned for excellent practice.
At NCIC there are four laboratories which cover three biomedical sciences. Every three months nearly two million samples of blood, tissues and fluids are analysed in our labs providing vital timely diagnosis for our patients.
Debra Padgett,Infection Sciences Operational Manager explained:
“Our labs test all the swabs, tissue samples and blood samples from not only the hospital service but from all community services, including district nursing and sexual health, and from all north Cumbria GP practices. I think a lot of people would assume that samples are analysed where they are taken but they all come to our labs at either the Cumberland Infirmary or the West Cumberland Hospital. We cover blood sciences, cell science and infection sciences.”
- Blood sciences: Analysing blood to look for abnormalities, infections or antibodies.
In west Cumbria the blood science laboratory provide urgent testing for the A&E and the wards at the west Cumberland Hospital. They work closely with the blood science laboratory in Carlisle and between the two laboratories they deal with more than 1.5 million blood samples every quarter. Blood Sciences incorporates transfusion which identifies blood groups for blood donation, ensures the correct grouped blood is matched to the patient due to receive the donation and makes sure blood stocks are adequate for critical incidents such as road traffic accidents, operations and cancer treatments.
- Cell sciences: Analysing biopsies and other tissues to understand and diagnose abnormalities.
The cell science laboratory is based at the Cumberland infirmary. They analyse all biopsies and tissue samples from across the county and are vital in diagnosing things such as cancer. Around 80,000 samples every year are analysed by the scientists in these labs.
- Infection sciences: Analysis of fluids, samples and tissues to identify infections, including COVID-19
The infection science laboratories are also based at the Cumberland Infirmary and have been vital in the response to COVID-19 – however they were busy before the pandemic, analysing around a quarter of a million samples every three months. This figure has increased dramatically since COVID-19 appeared. Since March the infection science laboratories have analysed over 12,000 swab samples and in the last week over 1000 antibody tests.
The biomedical science laboratory are renowned nationally and internationally
Debra Padgett explained:
"We have built up our reputation over a number of years and now we are incredibly proud to be nationally recognised as an international reference laboratory for respiratory fungal conditions. This means we are sent samples from oversees to analyse for certain respiratory fungal conditions, they are sent to us because of our reputation and ISO accreditation. We are also a regional reference centre which means we are the lab of choice for analysis for certain services such as chlamydia screening.
“We are also a regional reference centre which means we are the lab of choice for analysis for certain services such as chlamydia screening.
“Each of our labs is also UKAS accredited which gives an assurance of competence, impartiality and integrity of our work.
“I am incredibly proud of all our scientists who daily work away often in the background providing a vital service to our patients.”