A SILCHESTER-based logistics firm is taking on a new specialist contract assisting the NHS with samples of biological samples.

CTS, a global firm based just across the border in Berkshire, has taken on the contract to help the health service as they focus on treating coronavirus.

The firm are working with University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, moving blood and tissue samples from sexual health clinics in Essex to Lancaster Royal Infirmary for testing.

According to their founder and managing director, Nick Collins, the company has expanded its operation to 24/7 to give the NHS a hand during this period.

He 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.”

The company have recruited five extra drivers to fulfil the contract, which started on March 30, and could run for up to three years. They are able to deliver hundreds of samples a week from the 14 clinics across Essex, with drivers delivering the packages by 7am the following day.

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.

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.

The logistics firm, which specialises in dealing with dangerous, delicate and difficult goods also works with hospitals to deliver UN Class 7 radioactive isotopes for cancer treatments. For example, CTS works with University Hospital Southampton NHS Trust, which creates radioactive isotopes that CTS delivers for use at several other hospitals and veterinary centres across the South. The isotopes have a short half-life, when they start to decay, and so they must be collected and delivered within two hours.