Kingston Hospital is the first in the country to use a new, quicker test for the flu virus by the bedside.

Point of Care Testing (POCT) was introduced to the Emergency Department and the Acute Assessment Unit last month.

It uses a molecular analyser to test for flu, giving results in just 20 minutes.

Sally Brittain, Director of Nursing and Quality at Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We’re delighted to have Point of Care Testing for Flu at Kingston Hospital, and it couldn’t have been introduced at a better time. Having the POCT analysers in place over the Christmas period has meant we can diagnose and treat patients with flu in a timely manner.”

Between December 21 and 31, the test was done 87 times, with a third of cases testing positive.

As well as patients having results quicker, it has also made bed management easier for hospital staff, leading to a “significant” reduction in the need to close bays and isolate patients.

Ms Brittain said: “The hospital has been extremely busy this winter and having the device has helped our ward staff, as we have been able to keep more bays open and utilise the number of beds we have.

“I want to give special thanks to the team who worked on this: Linda Stocks, biomedical scientist; Dr Elli Demertzi, consultant microbiologist; and Fran Brooke-Pearce, lead clinical nurse specialist for Infection Control.”