New North East laboratory built to process COVID-19 tests

A new NHS Lighthouse laboratory has been opened in Gateshead, as part of the NHS effort to increase testing across the region.

The Lighthouse laboratory will receive and process COVID-19 tests as part of NHS Test and Trace system. The building is in Baltic Park, Gateshead and will process tests from across the North East and Cumbria, as well as Yorkshire and Humberside, with the capacity to collect tests from further afield.

It’s hoped that, with a large testing processing lab in place, it will be easier to see variants and prevent community transmission.

The aim of the labs has three main prongs: providing state-of-the-art testing capacity, via the new Lighthouse lab; strengthening coordination between local authorities and the health service, including sharing more data, insight and resources to manage outbreaks; accelerating new methods of COVID-19 testing – led by a new innovation lab connecting NHS, industry and universities.

The lab is one of the largest of its kind, and the first integrated COVID hub in England to be fully operational.

Chief Executive of the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Dame Jackie Daniel, said: “The Department of Health and Social Care’s investment in this new Lighthouse laboratory provides a valuable resource for our region, supporting in the fight against this pandemic and strengthening our resilience even further.

“The facility was built by partners pulling together and puts us in a stronger position to manage and control the virus. It is testimony to the collaborative approach we have taken to tackling COVID-19. All involved have worked very hard and my deepest thanks go to everyone who has played a part.”