An Aberdeen Covid testing centre could help a backlog-busting 1,000 patients a week as the pandemic tails off.
TAC Healthcare, which was founded in 2013, began offering a limited coronavirus testing service from a wooden gazebo at the back of its Cults office in March 2020.
As demand grew, it escalated to “four machines in the corner” of an oil firm’s gym, to its current premises in Dyce.
Long-term the firm is hoping to transform the space into a “one-stop shop” for diagnosing and treating certain conditions, privately and on behalf of the NHS where required, but has run into a roadblock.
With its Covid testing services in high demand – including at airports, sporting events and with a new mobile facility – it cannot currently pivot to other activities.
Clinical director Ken Park said: “Before Covid we were very much a healthcare company – we do endoscopy, imaging, minor surgery, and major surgery for the NHS as well.
“The idea was this facility would give us the hub to provide them but we’re finding it’s a bit of a double-edged sword because as long as we’re busy testing for Covid, we can’t really start building work.
“And, secondly, we wouldn’t want to be doing any clinical work in an environment where we’re bringing people in potentially with infection, so we’re very limited with what we can do.”
Mr Park is hopeful the centre can be used to speed up waiting times for key tests and procedures – particularly after many were paused during the early months of the pandemic.
Potentially, this could allow someone to have a test ordered and completed, then leave with a diagnosis in the same day.
“The amount of work that needs to be done is finite,” he said.
“If we take hernias, there are around 800 to be done in Aberdeen every year.
“And if you look at the time it takes for one, and the operating availability, it could be a quarter of all the elective operating done.
“So if we can take that out of the acute sector, it makes a lot of sense for everyone.”
He added: “We will be looking at maybe 1,000 patients a week, but that’s between a number of different specialties.
“You might find there’s a bigger uptake in orthopaedics, whereas gynaecology or something might fall by the wayside.
“A lot of what we do here depends on the wider picture of health care in the community and we aim to be part of that solution.”