Derbyshire’s response to the national lead on Covid-19 testing is underway, following the announcement on plans for antibody testing from Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

The Derbyshire Pathology Network, which includes NHS Derby and Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group and health providers from across the county, has already started to deliver against the detailed plan following receipt of guidance on antibody testing.

Antibody tests, which look for evidence of past exposure to the virus, use blood samples to support information about the prevalence of the virus. As outlined at the Downing Street press conference on Tuesday, the antibody test does not indicate whether a person has immunity, or mean that they can disregard social distancing guidance. It is important that people who have had the antibody test continue to maintain social distancing guidance.

The UK is now currently offering antibody tests to health and care staff, with the eventual aim of rolling them out to the wider population.

In Derbyshire anticipated staff antibody tests are being developed across organisations in the Joined Up Care Derbyshire sustainability and transformation partnership, including:  

·       Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

·       Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust

·       Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

·       East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust

·       University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust

·       GP practices, dental practices, optometry practices and pharmacies across Derbyshire

·       DHU Health Care.

Working together, the health organisations can ensure there is sufficient capacity to offer antibody tests for those staff who request them.

Leaders from Derbyshire will work closely with NHS England regional teams, to receive continuous updates and guidance, and monitor changing demand and capacity so the response can be effectively tailored to need.

Dr Chris Clayton, Chief Executive Officer for NHS Derby and Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group said: “This is obviously a highly fluid situation, so across Derbyshire we’re working together with NHS providers to ensure we have capacity for all NHS staff who wish to have an antibody test.

“I’d like to thank all health and care colleagues for meeting every new challenge faced in our ongoing fight against coronavirus, as they do everything they can to keep people well.

“As the Health Secretary made clear, having capacity is a good thing, but we also join him in urging people who are eligible and in need of the various tests to get them.

“We’re grateful to those staff who have put themselves forward to be tested so far.”