Scores of Edinburgh Napier nurses and midwives have again rallied behind the national drive to combat Covid-19 by signing up to assist with the asymptomatic testing programme for students.
Around 100 are working at two testing sites in the city this month, ahead of students’ anticipated return home for Christmas.
Covid-19 ‘rapid’ tests, available on a voluntary basis, are taking place at University of Edinburgh sites at The Pleasance Sports Complex and St Leonard’s Land.
It is recommended that Edinburgh-based students with no symptoms book themselves in for two tests, between three and five days apart.
Students from the university’s School of Health & Social Care leapt at the chance to assist with the test programme in a non-clinical role, with more than 400 responding to the call for help.
This was narrowed down to around 100, who are covering various shift patterns across the two sites, talking students through the process and providing support and encouragement.
Many of the same students were among 1000 from the School who earlier took up placements alongside NHS workers in hospitals and care homes at the height of the pandemic in the spring.
Marianne Mearns, 30, a final year BN Child Health Nursing student from Livingston, said: “It is an amazing yet scary time to be a student nurse, but I feel proud to be one of the many supporting the university and the NHS during the pandemic.
“Keeping people safe is paramount, and assisting with the testing is a new challenge I am excited to be part of.
“I also undertook an NHS placement at the height of the pandemic and had to stay in a hotel temporarily to protect my fiance who was shielding at the time.
“It was very challenging but I feel I coped well and it has made me a more competent and confident student nurse going forward.”
Michelle O’Reilly, lecturer in the School of Health & Social Care, said: “This is an experience we are all delighted to be involved in, with our students from across nursing and midwifery demonstrating excellent professional and interpersonal skills in helping to reduce the anxiety of fellow students getting the test.”
Professor Alison Machin, Dean of the School of Health & Social Care, said: “These are challenging times, but I am very proud of our students’ enthusiasm and willingness to apply their skills and get involved.
“The lessons they learn will stand them in good stead for the rest of their careers.”
Universities and colleges are utilising lateral flow devices (LFDs) – a clinically validated swab antigen test that does not require a laboratory for processing and can produce rapid results within half an hour at the location of the test.
Students will be offered two LFD tests, spaced three days apart which are bookable through their college or university.
Those receiving two negative results will be encouraged to safely return home as soon as is practical after the second result.
If either of the lateral flow tests returns a positive result, the student will be asked to self-isolate and undertake a confirmatory polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test through the usual NHS Test & Protect channels.