Purchasing COVID-19 testing equipment to support our patients

Thanks to a generous donation made by The Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation to The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, new COVID-19 testing equipment has been installed at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.

COVID-19 presents an especially challenging risk for cancer patients, who are often immunocompromised as a result of their treatment.

Purchasing testing equipment enables us to find out sooner whether patients have the virus or not and ensure they are cared for in the most appropriate way. It means that those who are infected can be quickly identified and isolated.

patient and radiographers
Image taken prior to COVID-19

Test results in two hours

Now, thanks to a United Way Worldwide grant to The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity on behalf of the generosity of The Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation, The Royal Marsden has a testing machine onsite. Located in the Ralph Lauren Centre for Breast Cancer Research, this machine means test results will be available in as little as two hours.

The Cepheid GX 16-16 machine, which can analyse 16 samples at once, will be used to test any patient where a rapid result is required.

This will be vital in helping The Royal Marsden to provide as much cancer treatment as possible post-pandemic and will help to meet peaks in demand for cancer treatment when people come out of lockdown and seek help for signs of potential cancer. The machine’s fast turnaround will make an enormous difference to the smooth running of the hospital’s services, including the Cancer Hub, and will give patients peace of mind sooner that their treatment can go ahead.  

scientist with microscope
Image taken prior to COVID-19

A long-standing relationship

The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity has a long-standing relationship with Ralph Lauren; the Ralph Lauren Centre for Breast Cancer Research was established thanks to supporters of The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, including a generous donation from Ralph Lauren.

In addition to the donation for the testing equipment, Ralph Lauren has helped raise funds to support the COVID-19 appeal launched by The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

Nurse in hall with a child patient
Image taken prior to COVID-19

Funds from this appeal are helping cancer patients and staff during the ongoing pandemic; funding essential research trials into COVID-19 and cancer, supporting staff wellbeing and providing digital resources to enable remote models of care.

Ralph Lauren, in partnership with The Conduit, also ran a campaign to provide thousands of meals for frontline NHS staff, with support from GAIL's bakery and catering company Rocket. Ready-prepared meals and loaves of bread were distributed to staff at The Royal Marsden each week.

Providing critical help

The Ralph Lauren Centre for Breast Cancer Research is also now being utilised as a critical facility for the hospital in which biochemical sample analysis takes place. This is an essential process as part of standard cancer treatment and now requires a specialised environment to be analysed, due to the risk of COVID-19 being present in the specimen.

Professor Mitch Dowsett, who has helped to lead the procurement of the testing equipment, said:

 “Thanks to The Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation and The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, we can bring COVID-19 testing in-house, significantly speeding up the turnaround of results.”

Antonia Dalmahoy, Managing Director of The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, said:

“We are incredibly grateful to Ralph Lauren and The Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation for their ongoing commitment to supporting the Charity and The Royal Marsden. Their support means we can continue to provide critical help to patients – at The Royal Marsden and across London - at a time when they need it most.”

Moving forward after coronavirus

Importantly the testing machine will also be used after the COVID-19 pandemic. It has a lifespan of approximately ten years, and so will be a vital asset to The Royal Marsden beyond this initial demand for COVID-19. It can test for a multitude of other infections. These tests are vital in a cancer hospital for infection prevention and control, and pre-theatre screening.

This article was originally published on 16 April 2020. It has been updated on 27 July 2020 to share the latest information and ensure accuracy.

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