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Awards shortlisting for Covid-19 testing programme

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An innovative programme launched in Dudley which delivered asymptomatic Covid-19 testing in the heart of communities has been shortlisted for a national award.

Dudley Council’s Public Health launched the pharmacy-led lateral flow testing (LFT) model in December after a successful bid for government funding and has been shortlisted in the public health category of the LGC Awards 2021.

With the national Index of Multiple Deprivation 2019 showing 28.1 per cent of borough residents lived in areas among the 20 per cent most deprived in England, where car ownership is low, it was designed to take testing to the heart of communities, making it easier for residents to access, especially those without transport.

Pharmacies from across the borough signed up to deliver the testing and also, through the model, outreach clinics were delivered in a variety of community venues, such as places of worship, a warehousing business and two colleges.

Once established, the model meant public health was able to quickly set up testing in neighbourhoods in response to outbreaks across the borough.

Community volunteers were also trained to deliver key messages and work within target communities to help increase the uptake of LFT, dispel myths and encourage people to isolate when required and follow guidance.

Councillor Nicolas Barlow, cabinet member for public health said:

I’m delighted public health has been shortlisted for this prestigious award. During the pandemic they have worked tirelessly with partners and communities to prevent the virus from spreading.
The introduction of LFTs for testing people without symptoms has played a huge part in breaking the chain of infection and ensuring people had access to testing in the heart of their communities was vital to its success.
Congratulations to everyone who has been part of delivering this innovative programme and for making a real difference to residents lives across the borough
Covid is however, still with us and I would urge anyone who is eligible for the vaccine who has not yet had it to get their appointment booked in as soon as possible.
If you have symptoms self-isolate and have a PCR test and, for those with no symptoms, please continue to have twice weekly symptom free tests at home"

The borough’s successful model has since been used in neighbouring areas including Birmingham, Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Stoke-on-Trent, Telford and Wrekin, Shropshire, Gloucestershire and Staffordshire.

Stephen Noble, chief officer of Dudley local pharmaceutical committee, added:

This is fantastic news and demonstrates the positive impact partnership working can have on communities, even more so during the pandemic.
The programme has been a real success. Our pharmacies know their residents, have built up trust in their communities and many employ local people and were keen to keep themselves, their staff, patients and customers safe and well.”

The winners will be announced on November 4 at a ceremony at the Marriott in Park Lane, London.

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