A rapid response to keep COVID-19 testing on line

Although the peak of hospital admissions for COVID-19 has passed in the UK, testing capacity continues to ramp up, placing sustained pressure on pathology and testing services.

In June 2020, an Envair engineer was on site in the molecular lab at Royal Stoke University Hospital conducting 12 month service checks of the Microbiological Safety Cabinets (MSCs) in use there when he noticed that a HEPA filter had failed on one of the Class I cabinets used for COVID-19 testing. This put the cabinet out of use and risked 500 samples per day going untested, because as an ACDP category 3 pathogen, it was not safe to test for the virus using anything other than a Class I system.


With the minimum lead time on a replacement HEPA filter being at least two weeks, the team swung into action to find a solution. Working in partnership with the main contractors Sodexo, Envair identified a partially built class I MSC Bio1+ at our factory in Haslingden, Lancashire. The hospital procurement team pulled out all the stops to approve the budget within hours and the manufacturing team at Envair were redeployed to complete the build, then wire and test the unit ready for same day despatch.

By 3.30pm, the MSC had been handed to Sodexo and after a sprint down the motorway, engineers from both companies began the installation and commissioning of the cabinet with it finally being handed over to the Trust just before midnight.

There were cheers from everyone when COVID-19 testing recommenced at 7am, with less than 24 hours downtime.

Christopher Turner, Estates Manager Environmental at Sodexo commented, “It was critical to get the COVID-19 testing capacity back on line as quickly as possible for the Trust and working as one team, Sodexo and Envair engineers mucked in together and got the job done. This was testament to our strong working relationship and a willingness to act rapidly to respond to an urgent client challenge.”

Envair supports coronavirus treatment efforts

As the COVID-19 pandemic peaks, many hospital pharmacies are experiencing huge pressure to increase their production of drugs needed for treating patients, both those with coronavirus and those with other critical illnesses.

One solution identified by Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is to provide a clean air environment for nurses to make up high volumes of injections for use in their intensive care unit, without needing to further burden the hospital pharmacy.

They contacted Envair, and in a record 10 days, we had specified the solution (our HLF horizontal unidirectional airflow cabinet), delivered, installed and commissioned the unit, all whilst maintaining safe social distancing measures.

We were only too happy to play our small part in helping tackle the crisis and are delighted that the unit is now in use, helping the intensive care nurses treat patients more quickly.

“Our intensive care nurses have needed extra capacity to make up high volumes of injections, due to the high number of coronavirus patients we’re treating. Envair’s HLF workstation provides this clean environment and they responded to our request for help in record time.”


Find out more about the HLF here.

HLF clean air workstation

COVID-19 update from Envair

As concern continues to grow around the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), we wanted to take this opportunity to update you on the steps we are taking to maintain business continuity.

Our primary concern is the safety of our employees, whilst continuing to provide our usual client services without disruption. Envair Limited remains fully operational both in terms of manufacturing and site based planned preventative maintenance, call outs and repairs.

We will carry on providing our full services until Government advice changes.

Many of our staff are able to work from home and will remain contactable as usual by email, phone or Skype. All field service engineers are continuing to support our clients at their sites, whilst taking every care to stay safe. For those in our manufacturing team, extra safety precautions have been put in place around the building.
Additional care will be taken when cleaning all products due to leave the premises, at the point of pre-delivery inspection.

We are aware that chances of the virus being spread after the initial 72 hours is significantly low, but remain vigilant to the possibility of this varying under different conditions such as temperature or humidity. A log will therefore be taken of despatch dates, times and goods receipt in order to advise Public Health England (PHE) of any goods handled within this period of time, should an employee involved in the process become unwell.

Whilst we are fortunate that none of our team have currently tested positive for the virus, if this changes, we will follow guidance from the relevant authorities and continue to monitor the situation daily.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call our office and in the meantime, I hope you stay safe and well. Thanks also go to our fantastic healthcare professionals working on the front line to help protect us all.

Best wishes

Gary Bagshaw
Managing Director