University answers Health Secretary’s call for help


Edinburgh Napier University has answered a plea for help from the government to help boost the national drive to increase testing for COVID-19.

The university is sending equipment from its School of Applied Sciences to support health authorities on both sides of the border.

The move follows a request for help from the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock who wrote to Principal Andrea Nolan on April 10 requesting help.

Professor Gary Hutchison, Dean of Applied Sciences, secured permission to return to the Sighthill campus with his family during the national lockdown to identify materials on the Government help list, which have now been collected by a team from the army as a temporary loan.

The equipment loaned by the University includes four thermo cycler machines, used as part of the molecular biology process to determine if a patient test is positive or negative for the virus.

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Following collection by the army, they will be sent to test centres across the UK to support the drive to increase testing.

In a separate development, Professor Hutchison has been in dialogue with NHS Scotland procurement and NHS National Services Scotland to make them aware of what equipment the University has.

As a first step, Personal Protective Equipment including body suits, masks, gloves and aprons is now being gathered for collection to support staff involved with the COVID-19 testing programme and other frontline activities.

Professor Hutchison said: “Assembling the correct equipment to meet testing needs in this time of national emergency is a huge logistical challenge.

“As Dean I am proud that our School is doing what it can to support the national scientific effort, our local scientists and frontline health professionals as best we can in this time of need.”

Staff at the University’s Merchiston campus have also been supporting health workers, by making scores of face masks on a laser cutter, and a training ventilator has been transferred from the University to the intensive care unit at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.