Althea launches affordable Covid-19 rapid antigen tests

Roche test box

Althea UK and Ireland – the leading medical technology services provider– has announced that they are now offering high quality and cost-effective SARS-CoV-2 Rapid Antigen Tests.

The antigen test – supplied by Roche – can help detect SARS-CoV-2 infection in those suspected to carry the virus with results available in 15 minutes. The test can be used for both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals.

Althea hopes that the new service, which is available for pharmacies, dentists, hospitals and clinics, as well as hospital support companies whose staff access clinical settings, will provide a valuable initial screening test for staff who might be exposed to COVID-19 or work in high-risk environments.

Healthcare workers remain a key high-risk group and regular testing was introduced for patient-facing staff at the end of last year to help protect primary care workers and curb the potential spread of COVID-19.

David Rolfe, UK&I Chief Executive Officer at Althea said: “As COVID-19 continues to spread, and while vaccinations are being rolled out, testing remains crucial to contain the spread of COVID-19. We are pleased to be able to offer the Roche rapid antigen tests to support those providing vital services across the country with a reliable, high-quality testing option at an affordable price. At a time where budgets are stretched and health services are under pressure, as a trusted partner to many hospitals in the UK, we want to do our part in supporting those working on the frontline.”

Althea has been a trusted partner for the acute healthcare sector for the last 20 years. The company manages and maintains medical technology in hospitals and is entirely vendor-independent, meaning they can combine the best technology from across all manufacturers. At a time when healthcare providers are facing unprecedented demand, the company aims to support hospitals with increased capacity and new technology delivered in the most cost effective and clinically effective way.

During COVID-19, Althea played a key role in setting up equipment at the London NHS Nightingale Hospital which was set up to administer emergency care to COVID-19 patients. Specialist engineers from Althea have unpacked, built, tested and commissioned over 2750 pieces of equipment to be used at the emergency hospital, and have helped advise the NHS procurement team in sourcing vital equipment

Today the company is providing rapid COVID-19 tests to help further support the national response to COVID-19.
The Roche SARS-CoV-2 Rapid Antigen Tests is now available to healthcare providers by Althea. Roche’s SARS-CoV-2 Rapid Antigen Test is a rapid chromatographic immunoassay and is performed using a nasopharyngeal swab. The test has a sensitivity of 95.5% and a specificity of 99.68% and helps to detect antibodies in individuals who have been exposed to the virus. Tests are for professional use and should be administered by healthcare or trained occupational health staff.

 

For more information visit: https://www.althea-group.com/uk/covid-19-rapid-antigen-test/ or get in touch with us at uk.covidtesting@althea-group.com or 0118 900 8152

Althea played a key role at NHS Nightingale Hospital in the treatment of COVID-19 patients

Althea played an important role at NHS Nightingale Hospital in London thanks to specialist biomed engineers unpacking, building, testing and commissioning equipment.

Over the last two weeks Althea has played a key role at NHS Nightingale Hospital in London with specialist biomed engineers unpacking, building, testing and commissioning over 2750 pieces of equipment.

The lifesaving medical items, which were needed to treat COVID-19 patients, included 10 ventilators, 329 patient monitoring devices, 457 monitoring trolleys, 21 defibrillators and 198 infusion pumps.

Once everything was set up, commissioned and ready for use, each item had to be moved individually to the other side of the venue – a distance of 1km – where it was setup on each patient bay.

Gases such as oxygen and air were not available to test ventilation, so Althea’s Anaesthesia and Ventilation Specialist Manager Jeremy Wymer was able to source it for the hospital. The result of this being all ventilation was tested and bought back into service.

Althea engineers also helped advise the NHS procurement team sourcing vital equipment, which thanks to Althea’s intervention, 42 pumps were delivered within 2-4 days.

Another example of the lengths engineers went to support the hospital was when 200 patient monitoring systems were delivered at 5pm one evening on site by pallet.

The Trust needed 84 of the systems immediately so 12 Althea engineers stayed throughout the evening to commission, configure and setup the equipment within 3 hours. This was something that was recognised and greatly appreciated by both Nightingale Hospital and Barts Health NHS Trust.

David Rolfe, UK&I Chief Executive Officer at Althea: “Throughout this unprecedented time we have seen such an incredible response from the Althea team, and I am extremely proud of everyone involved.”

We have been responsive to a fast-moving situation, and engineers on site have gone over and above what was expected of them to support the NHS and clinicians onsite. It has been a fantastic team effort.”

In just nine days the ExCel exhibition centre in London’s Docklands area – usually used for large events – has been transformed into an emergency 4000 bed hospital to cope with patients affected by COVID-19.

NHS Nightingale Hospital London is the first of several Nightingale Hospitals planned in England including the University of the West of England in Bristol and the Harrogate Convention Centre. Others are due to be set up at Manchester’s Central Complex as well as Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre.

Althea has the largest constituency of biomed engineers on site at the Nightingale Hospital London providing support. The company are also currently engaging with other Nightingale hospital sites to see what help, advice and support Althea can offer the other sites across the UK.

Althea delivers full Radiology department replacement at Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust

In 2017, a 10-year partnership managed equipment service (MES) deal was signed between Althea and Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Musgrove Park Hospital. Two years in, Musgrove Park has seen a massive overhaul and change in its Radiology Service.

The department has had a total redesign to help improve its clinical services, making an improvement to staff workflow and patient experience. David Rolfe, CEO of Althea UK and Ireland, talks about how the partnership was benefiting patients and clinicians.

“Althea assigned a dedicated Service Manager to work with the Hospital team to provide the best possible customer experience,” explains David.

“Understanding on the ground requirements and working closely with clinical staff is key. Existing equipment is immediately covered by Althea’s Customer Care Centre (CCC), based at our Head Office in Theale, providing 24/7 specialist call handlers to manage any breakdowns that occur. Our specialist Technology team then came in to manage the equipment replacements.”

An equipment replacement plan was agreed with the Trust to manage which assets are replaced and when, allowing the department to keep running an efficient clinical service, with minimal disruption. A lot of the Musgrove Park equipment was nearing obsolescence or beyond recommended service life, which created concerns surrounding equipment performance and reliability.

Althea’s clinical-choice contract gives the overall decision in equipment selection to the clinical team, supported by vendor-independent information, analysis and advice from Althea’s Technologists. As one of the largest buyers of medical equipment in the UK & Ireland, Althea has longstanding relationships with all major and emerging manufacturers, ensuring the company is able to provide unbiased advice and consultancy. Its vendor-independence, scale and expertise allow hospitals to select best-of-breed technologies from a variety of manufacturers whilst maintaining the commercial and logistic benefits of having one supplier.

The first set of equipment to be replaced at the hospital was x-ray. This modality includes x-ray systems based in the main department, used with a large range of patients, from those within the hospital (inpatients), to outpatient appointments and GP walk-ins. The aging x-ray rooms were replaced with state-of-the-art Samsung GC85 x-ray systems. These machines are top of the range systems, with full automation and image stitching. The automation of the machines will improve patient through-put and also improve the manual handling demands on the Radiographers, which should have a positive effect on staff wellbeing.

Mobile x-ray systems were also replaced. These machines move around the hospital and go up to the wards to x-ray patients. Two Samsung GM85 systems were chosen by the Trust for their slim, ergonomic and lightweight nature. The GM85s, won the 2017 Design Award for its compact design and optimised workflow and allows easy access around tight spaces. Another mobile unit for the Special Baby Care Unit was also purchased. This was a Fuji Nano system. This machine is ideal for the Neonatal Unit, as it’s a smaller compact unit. It is small enough to move around the incubators within the Special Baby Care Unit.

Further equipment replacements also include, two mobile intensifier units. These machines were replaced with Philips Healthcare BV Pulsera’s. These machines are used in theatres, to give full diagnosis imaging when the surgeons are operating. One of the systems has extra capability, allowing the team to use the machine in a vascular setting. The high power of these units allows better visualisation for the surgeons, especially in spinal cases.

The Ultrasound Department has also seen a change. An extra ultrasound unit – Philips Affiniti 70 was added to the portfolio of equipment. This was to help with the increase in service demand for interventional procedures. A Fujifilm Sonosite X-Porte machine was also installed to enable more bedside procedures to be carried out, rather than patients having to be moved around the department. The General Imaging Department saw an installation of a GE Logiq E9 and the Maternity Department a Canon Aplio i600 system, which features superb microvascular imaging.

“The most exciting development and change is the re-design of the whole Imaging Department including the move of the DEXA department into an old un-used room,” said David.

“Althea’s design services are fully aligned with ISAS’s patient-focussed assessment and accreditation programme and aim to improve patient experience and provide a staff working environment conducive to maximising clinical time.”

The new DEXA machine – a GE Lunar iDXA bone densitometer – is an advanced system which offers high clarity, precision and image resolution on the density of bones. The move of this machine into a different room, made available a space to create an additional CT scanner suite.

It also enabled the Trust to redesign and add additional equipment to their portfolio including the installation of a new MRI Scanner and Injector. The new MRI scanner, which was charity-funded, was given the Royal seal of approval by Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex. The scanner, a Siemens 1.5T Magnetom Aera was officially opened by the Countess on 24 September 2019. The Trust and the charity worked tirelessly to raise the money for this system.

“Althea were able to work with the clinical teams to source the right equipment to suit them and their patients – it wasn’t a case of purchase the cheapest equipment, instead we ensured that we sourced the most appropriate equipment for the hospital and it’s patients,” said David. “The Siemens Aera fitted that category, and we were pleased to have procured this scanner for the charity, ensuring it was money well spent for the department”.

Both Althea and the Trust are grateful for the money raised and funded through a £1 million fundraising campaign led by the hospital’s official charity Love Musgrove. Having a third MRI scanner means clinicians at Musgrove Park can perform more of the most complex scans than ever before. This is particularly important as the hospital has seen an annual ten percent increase in patients who need an MRI. The scanner also helps to provide diagnosis for patients who may have breast cancer, neurological conditions, cardiac problems, tumours, spinal injuries, and musculoskeletal disorders.

But the replacements haven’t stopped there. In the coming months, the existing CT scanner will be updated. The scanner chosen is a GE Revolution EVO scanner, which replaces an old GE VCT. The new technology and software can give the department faster scan times, greater patient throughput and a happier clinical team.

David commented about the transformation at Musgrove Park: “We are proud to offer a vendor-neutral managed service which has been tailored to meet the hospital’s specific needs. This includes around-the-clock maintenance as well as long-term asset replacement. It is the most cost-effective way to ensure patients and clinicians have access to the latest diagnostic technology in first-class, patient-focussed facilities.Althea guarantees an informed, vendor-neutral, clinical choice of both equipment and clinical consumables.”

Adam Turner, Radiology’s Operational Manager at the Trust, explains that there has been a phased approach to the development of the department.

“Working with Althea and moving different teams around into new purpose-built facilities has allowed us to create a modern, bespoke, four-room Ultrasound Department, as well as an additional third MRI suite and six new Radiologist reporting bays. In addition to this, the new build has created both ‘in and outpatient’ waiting facilities and additional office space.”

“The installation of a second Siemens Aera MRI scanner was greatly required and will now remove a bottleneck in our waiting lists for MRI patients.”

But it’s not just new installations that Althea co-ordinate. Althea is responsible for the provision of high quality maintenance for all Radiology assets at the hospital, including the existing equipment from before the MES. Should any equipment faults occur, the Trust calls Althea’s Customer Care Centre regardless of the equipment manufacturer. The CCC provides a swift response and keeps the Trust updated with progress. This can be via the Althea team of expert engineers or selected partners minimising the disruption to clinical practice and maximising equipment uptime. Any issues are also highlighted to the Althea Service Manager for speedy resolution as required. Althea also offer an integrated consumables management service that delivers both cash-releasing savings and significant operational efficiencies for the Radiology, Procurement and Finance teams.

Adam concluded: “It has been an extremely exciting time for us at Taunton. With a larger demand on our imaging services, it is reassuring that our existing equipment has all been refreshed as it means we can continue to keep up with new Radiological techniques. None of this would have been possible without Althea and their managed service.”