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Coronavirus / Island based Covid home testing works well, Labour MSP finds out

The self-test kit is being sent out to patients by a dedicated driver who will also pick up the completed test. Photo: NHS Shetland

HIGHLANDS and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant says she is inspired by the way NHS Shetland has set up its own island-based Covid-19 home testing system.

This comes after the Labour MSP hit out against the Scottish Government last week when the Scottish Parliament’s information centre told her that there are large areas of the Highlands and Islands, including Shetland, where the testing kit cannot be delivered to people’s homes.

However, when Shetland News pointed out to the MSP that contrary to her earlier statements the home kit system was in fact working well in the isles, Grant said she was keen to find out more from the health board’s chief executive Michael Dickson.

At the time, Dickson told Shetland News: “In Shetland we were the pioneers in introducing the home testing/self-testing kits for a remote and rural location and it took considerable effort from the public health team in NHS Shetland to plan, test and manage the home testing/self-testing kits process.

“We have a robust process that is localised for Shetland and reflects our unique geographically challenges whilst ensuring we continue to have capacity for local testing for urgent patients.”

Labour MSP Rhoda Grant. Photo: Shetland News

On Tuesday, after learning how the system works in Shetland Grant called on Scottish health secretary Jeane Freeman to help to ensure that other rural areas could follow suit.

“I was inspired by Shetland’s example, which managed to get around a major flaw in national planning for Covid testing,” the Labour MSP said.

“However, the chief executive did tell me it wasn’t an easy task and required a lot of work to get it up and running.”

Any local resident with Covid-19 symptoms is asked to fill in a test request via the NHS Shetland website.

After the request is received, contact is made to arrange for a dedicated driver to make a safe drop-off and a pick-up time for the self-test kits.

The test is then securely packaged up with the others that need processing and dispatched that night on the overnight ferry from Shetland. It is then taken to the Lighthouse Laboratory in Glasgow by courier.

“I have now contacted Ms Freeman to ask if other areas of the region could learn from Shetland’s example and set up their own individual delivery, pick-up and results systems so residents can receive quick and accurate results without leaving their homes,” Grant added.

“I was pleased to hear that Shetland’s home testing scheme had protected its on-island capacity for those who are more unwell or may require transfer to the mainland for treatment.”