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UK lab investigated for false negative Covid tests is not fully accredited


UK lab investigated for false negative Covid tests is not fully accredited

The private laboratory that is under investigation for potentially issuing more than 40,000 false negative Covid tests was not fully accredited to perform the work, contrary to assurances made by health officials.

The UK’s independent accreditation service, Ukas, told the Guardian on Monday that neither Immensa Health Clinics Ltd nor its sister company, Dante Labs, had ever been accredited by the service, and that it had informed the Department of Health that statements suggesting otherwise were incorrect.

The UK Health Security Agency announced on Friday that it was suspending operations at Immensa’s laboratory in Wolverhampton pending an investigation into concerns that at least 43,000 people with coronavirus had been wrongly told their swabs tested negative for the virus.

Because many of the individuals would have believed the typically more accurate PCR tests performed by Immensa over simpler lateral flow tests, there is a substantial risk they unwittingly spread the virus on to thousands more people.

Announcing the investigation into Immensa on Friday, Dr Jenny Harries, the chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said the lab was “accredited to all of the appropriate standards”, while on Monday a government spokesperson said: “The lab was fully accredited by the UK’s independent accreditation service before being appointed.”

But Ukas said neither Immensa Health Clinics nor Dante Labs had ever been awarded Ukas accreditation, which is intended to ensure labs meet minimum quality standards. Companies require the certification, or must be in the process of applying for it, if they wish to provide Covid testing.

Since November 2020, Ukas has been working with the Department of Health to develop a three-stage accreditation process for private providers of coronavirus testing. Companies that take swabs, test them, or do both, are required to demonstrate that they meet minimum standards by progressing from application to appraisal and final accreditation.

Only after completing the third stage is an organisation accredited by Ukas to perform Covid testing work. So far, Ukas has received more than 500 applications from private firms to perform tests and/or swab handling. About 400 have passed stage two, 255 have had a final stage-three assessment, and 191 have received full Ukas accreditation. An additional 54 public labs, including Lighthouse laboratories, are also accredited.

Ukas does not release information about individual companies and whether they are in the process of applying for accreditation, but in a statement a spokesperson said: “Neither Immensa Health Clinic Ltd nor its related company Dante Labs Ltd has been accredited by Ukas.” Companies are allowed to “self-declare” that they meet minimum standards, but this typically marks the start of an application for accreditation.

Alan McNally, a professor in microbial evolutionary genomics at the University of Birmingham, who helped set up the Lighthouse lab at Milton Keynes, said: “The UK Health Security Agency and Department of Health and Social Care need to make it very clear what they mean by the Immensa lab being ‘fully accredited’. If it is not at all Ukas accredited, and it is not an official part of the Lighthouse lab network, which has its own very rigorous accrediting and validation process, then how exactly was it determined to be fit and proper to deliver Covid testing to the UK public?”

McNally said if the UKHSA investigation into Immensa found evidence of poor management, corner cutting to increase margins, or insufficient staff training “they should be charged and have all contracts terminated”.

Immensa Health Clinics Ltd was set up in May 2020 and received nearly £170m in NHS test-and-trace contracts. The company has been contacted for comment. Earlier this year, the Sun on Sunday found evidence for Immensa workers brawling, sleeping, playing football and drinking on duty while working at the firm’s Wolverhampton lab. The government said at the time it took “evidence of misconduct extremely seriously”.

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12 State Governors Owing Us, Health Workers Cry Out

The Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria MHWUN, has cried out that governors of 12 states of Nigeria are unfair to their members by owing them several years of salary arrears and also failed to standardise their payments .

The medical body noted that the worst of it all is that these governors have failed to implement the N30,000 new minimum wage that has become a law in the country.

They said the governors have subjected them to harrowing life.

The MHWUN National Vice President , Femi Adebisi stated this in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti state capital at the weekend during the 2022 international youth day organized by the South West leadership of the union, under the theme , ‘Intergenerational solidarity : creating a world for all ages.’

Adebisi said the welfare of health workers remains the only recipe to the recurrent brain drain crippling the health sector.

He however, did not identify the affected 12 states.

“We have nothing less than 12 states that are owing health workers their entitlements.We are engaging them as a union and we are hoping the governors and everyone concern will do the needful soon”, he stated.

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Pay Hazard Allowance To Health Workers, NLC Urges F.G

The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Mr Ayuba Wabba, has urged the Federal Government to immediately begin the payment of hazard allowance to health workers in the country.

Wabba made the call at the 2022 annual Federal Capital Territory Nurses Week/Scientific Workshop of the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives on Thursday in Abuja.

At the workshop with the theme, “Invest in Nursing and respect rights to secure global health,” Wabba said the allowance has been reviewed but payment is yet to begin.

“Many health workers have fallen victim to diseases in taking care of patients. I salute the nurses and Midwives, your reward is not only in heaven but here on earth. I urge you to learn so you can discharge quality healthcare service to Nigerians.

“The payment of hazard allowance will boost the morale of our health workers in the country”, he added.


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Cholera Outbreak Kills 10 In Gombe

Gombe state government has declared an outbreak of cholera after ten deaths were recorded across the state.

This was made public by Habu Dahiru, Gombe commissioner for health,  on Thursday.

Dahiru, who was represented by Abdulrahman Shuaibu, executive secretary of the Gombe Primary Health Care Development Agency, said as of September 20, 236 cases of cholera had been recorded in the state.

“This year, from June, we had sporadic cases of cholera in Balanga LGA and because of the preparedness and prompt response; it has been largely subdued without escalation,” he said.

These outbreaks are recorded in eight wards across Balanga, Yamaltu-Deba, Nafada, Funakaye and Gombe LGA of the state.

“The state ministry of health has promptly initiated public health actions for prevention and control of the disease.

“As of September 20, there was an increase in the number of cases in Gombe state as 236 cases have been listed so far.”

The commissioner said increased downpour of rain and flooding in many parts of the state led to the cholera outbreak.

He said decontamination of wells and boreholes in affected communities would be carried out and distribution of water treatment tablets in all affected communities would be conducted.



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