Microbiology Service Shortlisted For Prestigious Award
NHS Fife’s Microbiology Service has been shortlisted for a prestigious national award after establishing an innovative testing system to dramatically reduce the time taken to identify patients with flu.
The Advancing Healthcare Awards take place on 20 April 2018 and recognise projects and professionals across the UK that lead innovative healthcare practice and make a real difference to patients’ lives. NHS Fife’s Microbiology Service has been shortlisted for its work in establishing a rapid flu testing system, which allows nursing staff to confirm whether a patient has flu in as little as 30 minutes where previously it would have taken up to 24 hours.
Flu can potentially be deadly for those who are frail or who have underlying health conditions, and like many other parts the country, Fife experienced a much higher prevalence of flu this winter than in previous years, with a significant spike in respiratory illnesses across December and January leading to considerable pressure on hospital services.
Until recently, confirming a diagnosis of flu could take more than 24 hours from the point where a patient is initially tested in hospital. With the pressures on services at their peak, the Board’s Microbiology Service was tasked with speeding up the process of identifying those patients with the flu virus.
Senior Specialist Biomedical Scientist, Lisa Logan, explains:
“This winter we saw far higher numbers of people having to be tested for flu, both in our communities and our hospitals. The microbiology service was approached to see if we could quicken the process of testing for the virus within the Victoria Hospital to help alleviate some of the pressure over winter. Within a matter of days our team had researched, sourced and implemented a rapid flu testing system within the Accident and Emergency and the Admissions Units of the hospital, and had trained staff in how to use the system effectively. The new system enabled staff to confirm whether a patient is positive for flu within 30 mins, and reduced the numbers of patients admitted unnecessarily.”
NHS Fife’s Director of Nursing, Helen Wright, explains the benefits of the rapid flu assessment system for patients:
“Before we had the rapid flu testing system, all patients with flu-like symptoms had to be isolated and treated with an assumption of flu, resulting in some patients being admitted unnecessarily and receiving treatment with antiviral drugs that they may not have needed. By identifying patients with the virus quickly, our clinical staff were able to prevent the spread of the virus and ensure that patients were able to get the correct course of treatment, and initiated much sooner. Importantly, it also meant that if a person was negative for flu then we could act quickly to determine the underlying cause of their ill health.”
Watch: Senior Charge Nurses, Esther Davidson and Sharon Crabb, explain the benefits of the initiative.