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Daily testing saved City's emergency services from Covid catastrophe

KEY workers in Liverpool have been praised for carrying out daily testing, which prevented Covid19 from crippling emergency services. New findings published by a major health journal have revealed the world's 1st testing pilot saved almost 8,000 work days from being lost to self isolation. At the height of the Pandemic, there was a risk of many staff being in quarantine that essential services would be unavailable; so Liverpool pioneered 'test-to-release' with daily testing as an alternative to quarantine.

Liverpool residents who worked in a range of key organisations, including:- Merseyside Police, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service and Alder Hey Children's Hospital took part in the pilot which has recently been evaluated by Liverpool City Council and the University of Liverpool.

Over 30 staff from both Liverpool City Council and Liverpool Streetscene Services Limited (LSSL) also took part in the pilot; reducing the impact on frontline services; such as waste collection and domiciliary care in the City.

The SMART (Systematic Meaningful Asymptomatic Repeated Testing) Release pilot evaluated the use of daily testing as an alternative to the 10 day quarantine at home rule that was in force at the time for people in close contact with Covid19 cases.

Daily testing between December 2020 and August 2021 enabled key workers to carry out vital services in the City and was part of the wider SMART testing pilot; which saw Liverpool deliver the world's largest symptom free testing programme for Covid19.

It's estimated the pilot, which involved more than 1,600 frontline staff from across Liverpool, helped save numerous lives by avoiding staffing levels from dropping below crisis levels.

The wider findings have now been published by Lancet eClinicalMedicine and can be viewed online.

Cabinet Member for Social Care and Health, Cllr Frazer Lake said:- "I'm immensely proud of the part Liverpool has played in piloting rapid testing for Covid19. The key worker pilot ensured essential services such as home care, children's hospital services, emergency call centres and policing were able to continue; keeping Liverpool communities and our vulnerable residents safe."

Director of Public Health for Liverpool, Professor Matthew Ashton said:- "Making the pilot a success required flexibility, dedication and hard work from all of the front-line services involved, and the strength of our local partnerships is highlighted as a key element in the pilot's success. The SMART testing pilot was a pioneering public health intervention;  and is 1 that helped to keep front line services working, thereby protecting both lives and livelihoods in our City."

Public Health Speciality Registrar, Lucy Marsden said:- "I started my Registrar training at the height of the Pandemic, and this pilot gave me the opportunity to build relationships with so many wonderful partners across the City. It was amazing to be involved in such an important piece of work; from initiation until evaluation, and it's a special moment seeing it recognised as being instrumental in keeping frontline services open. I am so proud to have been involved, and I'm incredibly grateful to the Public Health team at Liverpool City Council, as they have encouraged and supported me throughout this project and my placement."

Iain Buchan, Professor of Public Health and Clinical Informatics, and Associate Pro Vice Chancellor for Innovation at the University of Liverpool said:- "The people of Liverpool, including the great public services taking part in this research, showed how rapid antigen test kits could be used by key workers to keep their teams going with daily testing instead of quarantine - balancing the risks of spreading the virus with the risks of essential services going down; they struck an effective balance and this became national policy. This was a great example of urgent public health research partnership between local public health teams, academics and the communities we serve."

Marta García-Fiñana, Professor of Health Data Sciences from the Institute of Population Health at the University of Liverpool, praised:- "The fantastic engagement and contribution of key workers from each of the public services across Merseyside. Particularly at a time of immense service pressure, they made possible this study which has provided further evidence on the key role of serial testing in Covid19 test to nrelease interventions."


Australasian Paramedics set to join North West Ambulance Service (NWAS)

15 Paramedics who have trained in Australia and New Zealand will soon begin responding to 999 calls across areas of the North West as part of a brand new Health Education England (HEE) Ethical Migratory Pathway. Developed through HEE's Directorate of Global Health Partnerships (DGHP), the pilot gives an exciting opportunity for internationally educated Paramedics in prehospital emergency care to join the NHS; the world's largest single heath system.  There are 3 UK ambulance services taking part with around 75 Paramedics joining the NHS across the UK. They have emigrated from all over Australia and New Zealand to work in England.

NWAS Director of People, Lisa Ward says:- "The North West has so much to offer and for those making the move, the job here is like no other. Not only is the North West 1 of the most vibrant places to live in, it is also 1 of the most challenging and varied environments you can work in as a clinician. We are committed to providing services which embrace diversity, and which promote equality of opportunity and we welcome our latest recruits to our green family."

The pilot is a positive partnership which will help to address the national shortage of Paramedics in the UK as their skills are sought after across other parts of the health service. This is just 1 of the initiatives NWAS is looking at to continue to boost its Paramedic workforce and respond to growing patient demand, alongside its UK recruitment.

Lisa continues:- "Our colleagues at London Ambulance Service have had similar initiatives to recruit Paramedics from Australia and it now has a community of Australian Paramedics all of whom are vital in helping care for patients. We would like this pilot to build on their successes."

Ian Buczynski, Senior Programme Manager for Ethical Migratory Pathways at HEE says:- "When identifying countries to partner with, HEE looked for countries in which Paramedics were trained to a similar standard to UK-educated Paramedics and could meet the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC) registration requirements. Also high on the agenda was to find countries which had an oversupply of Paramedics and a history of migration from the country. Australia and New Zealand were identified as being the most closely aligned to these criteria and was selected for this pilot."

HEE has run international ethical, sustainable, and education-based migratory pathways for several years to allow nurses, doctors, and radiographers to join the NHS. This has paved the way for the pilot to target newly qualified Paramedics from Universities in Australia and New Zealand which run a Paramedic practice, Paramedic science and Paramedicine bachelors programme like those offered by UK Universities.


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