MORECAMBE Bay’s hospitals have bucked the trend with a huge number of employees already having been tested for coronavirus.

Despite national concerns about capacity to test NHS workers for the disease local healthcare workers have been tested for a number of weeks.

The ‘amazing’ team behind the achievement have been ‘leading the way’ and operating drive-thru testing stations weeks before other trusts.

The testing strategy has resulted in more than 400 staff being able to return to work.

Zoe Midgley, a specialist medical bioscientist at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation trust, shared a picture of the microbiologists on Twitter.

She said: “Our trust has been leading the way and testing staff and patients for weeks.

“We had drive through testing two weeks before the media reported it as a new concept. #leadingtheway.”

Another trust employee added: “We did it from day one despite being told not to. Over 400 colleagues got back to work sooner.

“Proud to be part of the team that said let’s do this, for the right reason and look now everyone else has to play catch up.”

The trust has already tested 1,400 of its 7,000 employees, and is also trialling a new Covid-19 antibody test.

Consultant anaesthetist Rachel Markham said: “I hadn’t realised that staff testing was such an issue until I saw the news this week.

“UHMBT have rapidly tested all our staff and household contacts with symptoms since the first cases started presenting. Brilliant work.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the government has ‘a huge amount of work to do’ to meet its target of 100,000 coronavirus tests a day in the UK.

Mr Hancock said he was not relying on new antibody blood tests to meet the goal, which was announced after criticism of the UK’s testing strategy.

“It’s got to happen. I’ve got a plan to get us there, I’ve set it as a goal and it’s what the nation needs,” he said.

Mr Hancock said 35,000 NHS staff were currently off work because they or a member of their household had had coronavirus symptoms.

Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron said the trust had done a ‘remarkable’ job.

“The planning the trust has been doing for many weeks now has been very impressive,” he said.

“When I met with the trust’s chief executive Aaron Cummins four weeks ago it was clear then that they were aware of the scale of the challenge and have acted quickly.

“It’s remarkable what they have achieved and that they anticipated this need. It shows real competence and foresight.”

Barrow MP Simon Fell also praised Mr Cummins and said his ‘absolute passion for the job, for his amazing team across Morecambe Bay, and for ensuring that Furness is ready to tackle Covid-19 when the peak comes, shone through’.

David Wilkinson, Director of People and Organisational Development at UHMBT, said: “We have swabbed more than 1,400 employees, household members and emergency service colleagues, who are symptomatic of COVID-19.

“This not only means they can care for themselves and their families in the best way, but if they get a negative result they can return to work earlier to support their colleagues.

“Staff contact our Occupational Health team if they or any of their household members are experiencing any symptoms they are concerned about and we arrange for them to attend one of our hospitals for drive-through swabbing.”