Midland Metropolitan hospital site to test for Covid-19

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Image source, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust
Image caption,
The hospital in Smethwick is not scheduled to open until 2022

A new hospital currently under construction is to host a coronavirus drive-through testing site, two years before it is due to open to patients.

Key workers will be tested on a car park at the Midland Metropolitan in Sandwell, as builders continue work on the main building.

The move comes only two months after construction on the 700-bed hospital restarted.

It was halted in 2018 after construction firm Carillion collapsed.

Officially announcing the new testing facility, Health Minister Lord Bethell said: "The government is rapidly scaling up the national effort to boost testing capacity for coronavirus to protect the vulnerable, support our NHS, and ultimately save lives.

"This new service will help end the uncertainty of whether NHS and social care staff need to stay at home meaning those who test negative will be able to return to work."

Image source, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust
Image caption,
The move comes two months after construction on the hospital restarted

Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust Chief Executive Toby Lewis told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that alongside NHS staff, the site would offer tests to other key workers.

"Our trust has been one of the biggest testing NHS bodies over the last three weeks and we are thrilled to be launching this service for transport workers, GPs, refuge workers, social workers and emergency service staff," he said

Professor John Newton, national coordinator for the UK Coronavirus Testing Strategy, said the government was aiming to carry out 100,000 tests a day across the UK by the end of April.

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