Pressure on labs to meet testing demand, and increase capacity, has contributed to growing lab pressures. Recent research from Automata has highlighted the intense strain on lab staff during the pandemic. Pathology and diagnostic lab staff cited concerns over staff shortages, exhaustion, meeting demands and time pressures as issues being experienced across the sector, and in their labs. Very few lab managers feel that the situation is getting any better, with no respondent answering that the stress caused by time pressure was improving. In fact, 80% of respondents think that general issues of morale and exhaustion are actively getting worse.
This comes at a time when the diagnostic and pathology workforce are working under pressure to meet existing testing demands for core care and clear pandemic backlogs. Indeed, The Royal College of Pathologists has warned that stretched resources are impacting labs ability to clear the backlog and deliver care and treatment.
Meanwhile, the rollout of PCR testing for coronavirus has been heavily scrutinised in the UK, with concerns around system testing capacity, slow turnaround times and workforce shortages. Fast and accurate mass community population testing, to monitor the spread of COVID-19, will continue to be key in the future, to support economic recovery and the transition to a post-pandemic world.
But automating the manual elements of the PCR testing process can increase capacity and efficiency and relieve beleaguered staff to be redeployed to address other shortages.