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Cheshire healthcare company launches COVID-19 test suite for international air travel


Wilmslow based AKEA Life – the clinical and medical partner to Covid-19 testing company Salutaris People – is to open a designated private Covid-19 testing suite in Wilmslow on Tuesday 27 April 2021 to provide a ‘same-day’ and ’24-hour express’ service. 

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AKEA Life will administer the ‘Fit to Fly’ PCR test plus certificate service for Cheshire and Greater Manchester residents as well as business clients wishing to fly from Manchester Airport and other UK airports. The PCR testing comes with a same day service in addition to a 24-hour service. Test costs for the Wilmslow clinic are  priced at £110 for a 24-hour PCR test, with £175 for a same day rapid PCR test.  

The private testing suite will be based at AKEA Life’s offices at the Colony on Altrincham Road, Wilmslow and will open every Tuesday and Thursday from 9am-1pm. Clients can pre-book their appointment through a private booking system with Salutaris People or Test Assurance Group (TAG) 

Tests can be booked  www.salutarispeople.com/airport-testing/ or www.testassurancegroup.com/bookatest/

The process only takes a matter of minutes and provides private individuals and businesses with a quick and efficient PCR Covid-19 test and certificate administered by qualified healthcare staff. 

AKEA Life – founded by healthcare entrepreneur Ben Paglia – is a CQC registered 5-star private GP medical business, providing the UK’s first fully private concierge medical service of private doctors, health care professionals and nurses.

The practice also retains a Covid 19 Consultant Virologist to advise on all Covid 19 related matters. AKEA Life clients have included and range from private individuals, football clubs such as Liverpool Football club, Aston Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers and businesses such as IAC Automotive, Lift Financial and Bentley Manchester. It has also provided private Covid 19 testing for a number of TV and film companies including a number of Hollywood actors filming on location in the UK.

AKEA Life which provides medical and clinical services to Salutaris People, is the lead clinical partner in one of the first rapid PCR test facilities at a UK airport. Both companies are already working in partnership with the Test Assurance Group (TAG) and Liverpool John Lennon Airport to provide rapid PCR testing for airline passengers, private individuals and businesses. Salutaris People is also on the UK Government’s approved list of Covid-19 test providers. 

The Liverpool site has an express testing suite, with its own on-site laboratory providing clients with a rapid PCR test plus certificate with a 1-hour and 24-hour service. It also offers ‘Fit to Fly’, ‘Test to Release’ with the service.  In the coming weeks it will soon be offering 2-day and 8-day testing. Liverpool is one of the only airports in the UK able to do this at present, compared to the normal 48-hour turnaround for PCR tests.   

Ben Paglia MD of Akea Life, clinical partners to Salutaris People said: 

Akea Life is delighted to be providing a designated Covid-19 testing facility at our Wilmslow office for existing medical clients as well as local Cheshire and Greater Manchester residents along with business clients who need a Fit to Fly PCR test and certificate. From our Wilmslow test-suite we can provide PCR test results with a ‘same-day’ service and 24-hour service with certificate and ‘Fit to Fly’ from any UK airport.  We are also uniquely positioned just 10 minutes from Manchester airport in Wilmslow providing all airline passengers flying out of Manchester with a local service, administered by trained healthcare professionals. 

We pride ourselves on being a medical and healthcare company first and foremost, delivering 5-star, best-in-class services to the public. The combined expertise of Salutaris People and Akea Life provides the public, airline passengers and businesses with a truly unique offering in Covid-19 testing. Our staff are made up of trained healthcare assistants, paramedics, doctors and a consultant virologist. This allows us to provide the very best point-of-care, advice, clinical guidance in relation to Covid-19 and infectious diseases. We believe Akea Life and Salutaris People is truly unique in this offering.” 

The pandemic has seen a plethora of Covid-19 testing companies emerge, some with little or no previous medical or healthcare expertise. Many of those companies offer cheap testing and PCR home delivery test kits. Concerns have also been raised about numerous Covid-19 test incidents where people have received incorrect test results, false positives, tests being lost in transit and details being mixed up. 

Postal kits can get lost and delayed in the post and this has been well documented and written about. The Salutaris/ AKEA Life / TAG testing suite at Liverpool John Lennon Airport conducts Covid-19 tests on site by a trained healthcare professional, thus ensuring accurate testing. With its own laboratory on site, all samples are safely contained ensuring results do not get lost or mixed up. Test samples from the Wilmslow test suite are sent by experienced medical courier to the laboratory.

AKEA Life MD Ben Paglia added: 

“Someone using a postal PCR test could find themselves in a situation where there are delays with their test results or they even get lost in the post. This would then mean taking another test and doubling the cost to the consumer. If the delay is close to departure, that would almost certainly mean the airline passenger would have to take the most expensive express PCR test option.  At the very worst they could miss their flight and/or have their holiday ruined with even greater costs.

In the case of PCR home test kits, there is a high incidence of ‘unclear’ postal tests being returned by the labs as the airline passenger taking the test at home has not done the swab test properly. There is a significantly greater proportion of test results returned ‘unclear’ when self-administered, as opposed to those being done by a trained healthcare professional. 

Often a number of ‘unclear’ tests can also be affected whilst in transit in the post system and the way in which they are transported.  We have an onsite laboratory to do same day 1-hour rapid PCR tests or 24-hour PCR tests. We have a dedicated courier service for our ‘back-to-lab’ service.”

Covid-19 laboratories that return an ‘unclear’ test results do not provide a refund. Both AKEA Life and Salutaris People have a discretionary policy of refunding customers where our service is at fault. 

PCR home test kits are also open to abuse where another person could be standing in and taking the PCR test in someone else’s place. When a person presents themselves for testing at an AKEA Life / Salutaris People test suite, we check their identity documents before swabbing.

Both AKEA Life and Salutaris People are committed to bringing the cost of PCR testing down and are lobbying both the UK Government to withdraw the 20% surcharge on Covid-19 testing and also the laboratories for more transparency on their costs. At present all of the major laboratories take over 66% of the cost of a Covid-19 PCR test. Collectively with VAT this represents 86% of the PCR test cost. The remaining portion of the test cost covers employment of medical and healthcare staff, building rental, costly medical insurances, staff PPE and infrastructure costs, leaving Salutaris People and AKEA Life with around £6 profit per test.

Salutaris People and Akea Life believe that the public and airline passengers are looking towards established and trusted healthcare and testing providers. As the UK Government seeks to regulate Covid-19 test providers under the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS), AKEA Life and Salutaris People have signed up to UKAS and welcome the Government’s move to regulate the industry. Salutaris People is on the UK Government list of Covid-19 test providers, while Akea Life is a CQC registered 5-star private GP medical business.

Salutaris People was formed in 2020 by healthcare entrepreneurs and disruptors Ross Tomkins CEO (Therapy Direct, Normedica) and Ben Paglia CEO (Akea Life) who joined forces. Combining more than 30 years of collective expertise in the healthcare and medical sectors, they wanted to develop a trusted healthcare brand and become a provider of Covid-related medical services.

The company provides a range of medical services, including PCR Covid-19 testing for businesses, private individuals and airline passengers. It also supplies rapid antigen and rapid antibody testing for UK businesses and remote telemedicine services for both business and the general public.

Akea Life, in conjunction with its healthcare partners Salutaris People, Therapy Direct and Normedica, are also offering a unique Covid-19 Concierge Service to clients by bringing private Covid PCR testing to their location. A trained healthcare professional from Akea Life will come to a private residence, hotel or location and administer PCR tests.

The tests are then couriered back to the mobile laboratory facilities, providing express PCR results within 1-3 hours along with its express 24-hour testing. The company also plans to offer this service across the UK in other key locations and airports.  

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