A global logistics firm, based in Berkshire, has taken on a new specialist contract supporting the NHS with the highly secure transportation of biological samples.

Working with University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, CTS is now responsible for the movement of blood and tissue samples from a number of sexual health clinics in Essex, safely delivering them to Lancaster Royal Infirmary for testing.

The samples are classified as Class 6.2, category B, according to the United Nations’ global definition of hazardous materials. They can only be transported for diagnosis or investigation purposes and couriers must meet strict health and safety standards known an UN3373.

Nick Collins, CTS founder and Managing Director, said: “The NHS is under extraordinary pressure right now and we are honoured to support its vital work.

“CTS understands patients are anxiously waiting for test results and it is a matter of personal pride as much as our contractual arrangement that we deliver samples on time and in a safe manner.

“We have expanded our operations to run 24/7 to meet the needs of this project and we managed to implement and begin delivering the service within a very short time-frame of just one month. This has gone smoothly, despite not being able to meet people face-to-face because of COVID-19.”

CTS, which has its head office near Reading, recruited five extra drivers to help deliver the project with Morecambe Bay NHS and it has expanded its operating hours to cover nights and weekends. The service started on March 30, 2020 and is due to run up to three years.

CTS can deliver hundreds of samples each week from 14 clinics collectively in Essex. Drivers collect the samples in the evening and deliver them to Lancaster Royal Infirmary by 7am the following day.

Part of the service includes safely packing infected blood and tissue samples in a UN-approved pathology bag and maintaining a consistent temperature of 20 degrees. CTS drivers monitor the temperature via an app on their work mobile or palmtop computer. An alert appears if the temperature is getting too hot or too cold.

CTS is able to transport UN Class 6.2 category A and B infectious substances. Category A substances can cause permanent disability or life-threatening disease to anyone exposed. Category B substances, such as those being transported for Morecambe Bay NHS, are still infectious and must still be handled safely but they don’t pose such serious health risks to others.

A security seal must be applied to each pathology bag by a CTS driver once it has been packed. This is removed by hospital staff in the pathology lab and returned to CTS for recycling afterwards.

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