Boots and Amazon boost Covid-19 testing for NHS staff

Boots and Amazon are among the retailers who have been called on by the government to help boost testing capacity for frontline NHS staff.

It comes as dozens of universities, research institutes and companies across Britain are lending their testing equipment to three new hub laboratories which will be set up for the duration of the coronavirus crisis.

The government said that the new programme will add “significant” new capacity to the testing that is already underway at local NHS and Public Health England test laboratories.

It added that Amazon and Royal Mail will “help with logistics”, while Boots has supported initial trials by supplying volunteer healthcare clinicians as testers. 

The high street chain will continue this support as testing rolls out across the UK, though the testing will not be done at Boots stores, nor will tests be available over the counter or online.

Sebastian James, managing director at Boots UK and ROI, said: “I am extremely proud that Boots is supporting COVID-19 testing for NHS workers. 

“Boots has been at the heart of UK healthcare for 171 years and has always come forward to support the community in times of need. We will work with the NHS to recruit trained professionals – both Boots colleagues and from the wider community.”

He added: “I am sure there will be many trained healthcare clinicians and students, who will step forward to support our dedicated NHS colleagues. 

“Drive through test locations are being defined but will be spread across the UK; they will not however be in Boots stores, allowing our colleagues to focus on supporting our patients and customers.”

Doug Gurr, UK country manager at Amazon, said: “We believe our role serving customers and the community during this time is a critical one, and we are committed to working closely with the government to identify ways in which we can support efforts to respond to the crisis.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “Healthcare staff are key in our fight against the virus and I want to ensure that any frontline NHS or care worker who has symptoms of coronavirus or who has a family member with symptoms can be tested quickly and reliably.

“I pay tribute to the generosity and public spirit of Britain’s universities, research institutes and companies who have lent us their equipment without hesitation.”

This new service will help to “end the uncertainty” of whether NHS staff need to stay at home. Those who test negative will be able to return to work, which will enhance the capacity of the NHS and social care workers.

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