Frequently asked questions on doing COVID-19 testing for the NHS Frequently asked questions on doing COVID-19 testing for the NHS

I have worked in a biological research lab. What opportunities are there to use my skills to support the local NHS with COVID-19 testing?
In discussion with NHS colleagues at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (NNUH), an opportunity has developed for PhD students on the Norwich Research Park to carry out paid work for 2-3 month periods, helping to deliver diagnostic testing for SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. This work opportunity is available immediately and is likely to be in place throughout 2020-21. Appointments would be paid at NHS AfC Band 6 level, for a fixed term that would be agreed with the individual. This opportunity is also being advertised through the Careers Service at UEA, who may be aware of other similar opportunities.

What experience do I need?
This opportunity would be appropriate for PhD students who have extensive experience of real-time quantitative RT-PCR and/or who are familiar working in containment level 2 (CL2) laboratory environments, and who wish to gain experience working full-time in a NHS biomedical diagnostic testing laboratory.

Which researchers are preferred?
Preferences will be for PhD students in the following categories:

  • students who have already submitted their PhD theses and have not yet taken up other work.
  • students whose projects are paused due to the COVID-19 emergency.
  • students who are deemed eligible by the UEA Doctoral College, and have the full support of their supervisory team, to temporarily interrupt their research programmes.

If I want to interrupt my programme what should I do? Does this extend my thesis deadline?
You can apply for an interruption using the forms on our website. If the interruption is approved, it will stop the clock on your thesis and your deadline will be extended by the length of the interruption. If funder or visa constraints mean that it is not possible or advisable to interrupt, it instead may be possible to extend the submission deadline (at no additional cost) rather than interrupt.

Who do I contact?
Students interested in taking up this opportunity should contact Dr Rose Davidson (BIO) at for further details. You should include a cover letter and CV which explain how much experience you have of real-time quantitative RT-PGR and/or work in a CL2 lab. Dr Davidson is acting as a UEA point of contact for the scheme to answer queries from PhD students and to pass on expressions of interest from qualified students to the NHS. The NHS will be the employer.

What other conditions are there?
All students wishing to apply should first seek the approval of their PhD supervisor, supervisory team and funders, and check any visa conditions.

What hours of work are expected?
Shifts will be allocated, normally of eight hours at a time, and these could be across any of the seven days of the week. Those appointed will be an integral part of the NNUHFT COVID testing team and be expected to take on a fair share of the shift pattern. The work will be intensive.


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