Lancaster University’s Covid-19 response

This is a snapshot of just some of the ways in which Lancaster University has responded to the Covid-19 outbreak.

testing lab

Equipment and Facilities

The University has provided equipment and facilities to support the national and regional response to Covid-19:

  • Two PCR machines loaned to the national testing effort in Milton Keynes
  • A Covid-19 testing lab established on Lancaster University’s campus, co-staffed by diagnostic staff from University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) and around 30 skilled university staff
  • 40 rooms available for key worker accommodation, with occupants including Fire and Rescue Service, Police and NHS workers.

In addition, the university hosted site visits and provided detailed floor and service plans to the Military, NHS personnel and local authorities to assess suitability as a patient recovery centre, emergency foodbank storage facility and drive-through testing site.

Consumables and Manufacturing

We’ve provided stocks of PPE, produced consumables and supported vulnerable members of the community with food donations:

  • Over 54,000 separate items of PPE donated, including gloves, aprons, safety glasses and hand sanitiser
  • Additive Manufacturing (3D printing) technology and other manufacturing processes used to produce moulds to make over 1,200 curtain hooks a day for use on Covid-19 wards, headbands for protective visors and aerosol shielding boxes for healthcare workers at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary and Royal Preston Hospital.
  • Two deliveries of refrigerated food stock donated for use in hot meals which were cooked and delivered to local communities
  • Food bank collection sites operated on campus, with donations passed to local foodbanks.
testing lab
Joint NHS-University Covid-19 testing lab, April 2020

Skills, Expertise and Time

The research capabilities, skills and expertise of the University have been harnessed to inform government, develop approaches to testing and vaccines, join the frontline workforce, provide online courses and training, and support wellbeing and mental health:

  • Over 40 final year medical students graduated early to take up positions in the NHS and 30 medics in years 2-4 worked as Clinical Support Workers
  • Over 3,500 participants have benefited from online training on topics including how to use Teams
  • Academic contributions have been made across a range of areas including to Government SPI groups, SAGE, Local Resilience Forum groups and subgroups, NHS E/I Covid-19 national taskforce for staff support and wellbeing
  • Many academics have registered their expertise on both the Government and the Cabinet office expert database for Covid-19 and post-Covid
  • Lancaster University is part of a University-business partnership developed an inexpensive, rapid, diagnostic test kit that informs people if they have COVID-19 in under 30 minutes.
  • The School of Architecture worked with Lancaster City Council to develop an automated social distancing and way-finding model for businesses.
Dr Sophie England and Dr Emmanuella Adu-Peprah
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Dr Sophie England and Dr Emmanuella Adu-Peprah
Covid cluster logo

Business Support

  • The Health Innovation Campus team worked with industry partners to create the COVID-19 Manufacturing Cluster for Lancashire and South Cumbria and launched a new website - COVID-19 Manufacturing Cluster- to act as a portal for companies wishing to offer their services. This service connected NHS and other frontline healthcare providers with local manufacturers to procure parts and products which are essential to the Covid-19 response, including FFP2 and FFP3 masks, and for ventilators and CPAP equipment.
  • Lancaster University Management School, in partnership with the Health Innovation Campus, has developed a peer-learning Covid-19 Recovery and Resilience online programme to support SME leaders in Cumbria and Lancashire to re-shape their business, innovate and thrive following the Covid-19 crisis.

Community Support

  • Volunteering opportunities were promoted to staff, with activities including food preparation and deliveries, NHS volunteers, befriending and welfare calls, shopping for neighbours and pharmacy pickup.
  • Lancaster University staff have been volunteering their time to support students and vulnerable members of the wider University community, carrying out welfare calls and checks, and delivering laptops to support students to continue their studies.
  • Lancaster University has facilitated the Connecting Kids project, initiated by the local authority and in collaboration with a range of local education providers and businesses, to help to connect vulnerable children with education during lockdown. Over £130k was raised through the University’s fundraising team to support the project, which includes the provision of over 500 laptops, over 1,000 activity packs, learning resources and mentoring support provided by University students. The project will be evaluated in line with Widening Participation evaluation models.
connecting kids project
Staff from the University's outreach team putting together resource packs for pupils as part of the Connecting Kids project