“I am a Biomedical Scientist who works in the Clinical Chemistry laboratory of the Royal Cornwall Hospital. Covid-19 has had a large impact on the way we work across the whole of Pathology. In Chemistry it led to us implementing a new blood test to look for Covid-19 antibodies in patients to determine whether they had been exposed to the virus in the last 14 days and whether they may have built up some kind of immunity. We were also involved in a large scale research study called the Siren project where volunteers had regular blood samples taken and their antibody levels were tested – this is still ongoing at the moment and should help us to understand the virus much better.
“As for my day to day work – we offer a 24/7 service where there is always a Biomedical Scientist in the department to allow for a rapid turnaround of blood sample results. The main focus of our working is testing blood samples for various body chemistry functions which allow us to determine a patients kidney or liver function, whether a patient has had a heart attack, various hormone levels, drug levels that a patient has taken (either prescribed or other types of drugs such as paracetamol overdoses) and tumour markers for different kinds of cancers.
“Whilst the main bulk of our work is blood samples we also process urine samples (both as a single collection, or sometimes over a 24-hour period), faecal samples, sweat testing, cerebral spinal fluid and even on the rare occasion eyeball fluid! All of these have important functions – for instance, when we test spinal fluid we can help to rule out whether a subarachnoid haemorrhage has occurred -bleeding on the brain from a head injury.
“It is a very busy working environment which has a variety of different challenges on a daily basis. For me, one of the most difficult and yet rewarding times is when I work on-call and am the only person in the laboratory overnight or at the weekends. This means that I am responsible for all of the samples that come through the laboratory and for providing a rapid turnaround of results in order to support the A+E department and other critical wards across the hospital.”