The Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) will take over the running of Scotland’s coronavirus (COVID-19) mobile testing units from the start of September.
Currently operated by HM Armed Forces, the mobile units will pass to SAS, where they will continue to support the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the management of localised outbreaks.
The units complement the static drive-through testing centres and testing in hospitals and care homes and help ensure that testing is as accessible as possible for everyone.
As part of the transfer, around 500 positions will be created across the country for as long as the service is needed. Recruitment for these new posts has started, with the majority of roles being recruited from outside the Ambulance Service.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman MSP said:
“I want to thank the Armed Forces personnel who have been running the mobile testing units in Scotland since they were set up in April.
“Transferring operational delivery to the Scottish Ambulance Service will help to ensure that mobile testing units continue to support testing in local communities and provide a sustainable, long-term response to the pandemic.
“The units play an important role in NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect programme which is controlling the spread of COVID-19 in the community.
“But to help that work, it is vital that everyone who has symptoms isolates and books a test immediately. Continuing to supress the spread of the virus is the goal we all share.
“NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect has a crucial and central role in protecting all of us and will help to ensure we move through the phases of the lockdown exit strategy. It is a collective effort to help us protect others and save lives.”
Pauline Howie, Chief Executive of the Scottish Ambulance Service, said:
“Our staff have done a tremendous job throughout the pandemic, working hard to keep patients safe, and we will recruit staff to extend our Service to support the crucial Test and Protect programme.
“Our staff work at the heart of all Scotland’s communities, so using us to take COVID-19 testing forward makes good sense – not only can we maintain the high standards set by the Armed Forces, we can ensure people continue to get good quality face-to-face assistance.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP commented:
“There are currently 13 mobile testing units in Scotland, including at Prestwick and Glasgow Airport, and it is set to increase to 18 across the country later this month.
“SAS and NHS Scotland personnel are very knowledgeable and they will ensure the mobile testing units are operated to the highest standards.”