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Testing unit for health and social care staff opens at Liberty Stadium

The first cars have arrived at a drive-through Coronavirus testing unit in Swansea for health and other frontline staff.

Work on the six-lane facility at the Liberty Stadium started last Wednesday and took just two days to complete.

Credit: Swansea Bay University Health Board

Swansea Bay University Health Board, Swansea Council and Swansea City FC worked closely together to create the unit, which complements the unit in Port Talbot that the health board opened in March.

Around 150 people a day can be tested at the Margam unit, while the Liberty will be able to test up to an additional 360 people daily.

The testing facility is primarily for staff who are providing health and social care services, though some other key frontline workers can also be tested at Swansea Bay’s Margam or Liberty units.

Swansea Bay staff access testing via the health board’s occupational health service. A dedicated referral line is available for those in social care or working in GP practices, dental surgeries, pharmacists or opticians.

Access for other public health workers is through their organisation’s occupational health service.

All may be referred for testing at either of the two units should they, or anyone in their household, display symptoms.

The British Army has also provided a Mobile Testing Unit for those who will struggle to reach the health board’s two units.

It can travel to various locations including care homes within the health board area and will work closely with nurses based at the Liberty.

Health board Chief Executive Officer Tracy Myhill said: “Our people are making extraordinary efforts to support our communities.

“As well as wanting to ensure their health and wellbeing, without their tireless efforts we would not be able to provide care to our patients during these unprecedented times.

“Having this second facility means we can test more staff more quickly, so they know they are safe to return to work if they do not have the virus.

“It also provides us with the flexibility to contribute to the additional requirements of the all-Wales testing plan.

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“We are very grateful to our partner organisations who have worked with us to introduce this new facility in such a short time.”

The Liberty testing unit is located in the VIP car park and has its own dedicated vehicle entrance. Other car parking areas around the stadium are unaffected.

Swansea Council has played a key role in building it, working closely with contractors, the health board and members of the Army to plan, acquire cabins, source marquees, put up signs and fence off the area.

Council leader Rob Stewart said: “I’m glad we have played a key role in setting up this Coronavirus testing unit.

“The council has changed the services it delivers to reflect our communities’ evolving needs at this time.

“Our work to build the testing unit complements the expertise and energy we’ve shown in building the incredible Bay Field Hospital and in providing other vital services.

“At a difficult time we’re here for Swansea.”

The unit will operate between 9.30am and 7pm, though this could be extended if the need ever arose.

It will be manned by a mix of qualified and support staff who will organise appointments, take swabs and send them for testing,

The Swans have also provided the Liberty Stadium’s medical assessment room for use as the unit’s admin and support accommodation.

Swansea City Chairman Trevor Birch said: “The football club is pleased to be able to play its part in the fight against Coronavirus and help protect our fantastic health and social care workers.

“With Singleton and Morriston Hospitals both on our doorstep, it is the perfect venue for a testing centre to assist NHS staff as they continue to love and care for members of our community.

“It’s the second phase of our NHS support after making the stadium available for daily training courses for newly-registered nurses, returning healthcare workers, existing clinical staff and medical students.

“Swansea City has its heart in the community, and we will do everything we can to help during these difficult times.”

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