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New system helping Trust diagnose flu more quickly

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Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has introduced a new quicker way of testing patients for flu, with nurses and doctors using a bedside device that gives results in just 10 minutes.

Point of Care Testing (POCT) for flu was introduced in December 2018 at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford and in January 2019 at the Horton General Hospital in Banbury.

Before POCT, in order to test for flu all samples would have to be sent to the lab to be analysed - a process that could take several hours for patients at the Horton as samples needed to be transported to Oxford.

However, with POCT, we can quickly diagnose who may be well enough to be looked after at home, and effectively treat and isolate patients needing admission to hospital to reduce the risk of transmission to other patients.

The testing has been funded by the Department of Health and Social Care as part of improvements to the urgent care pathway.

Lisa Butcher, Lead Nurse and Manager for Infection Prevention and Control at the Trust, said: "We're delighted to have Point of Care Testing for flu at the Horton and John Radcliffe hospitals. Having the POCT analysers in place over winter means we've been able to diagnose and treat patients with flu in a much more timely manner.

"Flu-like symptoms are present in many illnesses, but this quick and accurate diagnosis means we can get people on the road to recovery far more quickly. It also means that we can send people home with the appropriate treatment, meaning they don't spend as long in our Emergency Department.

"A quick flu diagnosis means we can put immediate appropriate infection control measures in place to protect other patients and our staff."

Since the implementation, over 40 patients at the Horton and 119 at the John Radcliffe were diagnosed with flu with POCT, meaning they could undergo appropriate treatment straightaway.

POCT has been set up at the John Radcliffe's Emergency Department, Emergency Assessment Unit and Ambulatory Assessment Unit.

At the Horton, POCT has been set up at the Emergency Department and Emergency Assessment Unit, as well as on the medical wards.