FINAL year biomedical science students from the University of Essex have volunteered to help NHS staff deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fourteen students who successfully completed NHS placements as part of their course have applied to be temporarily registered with the Health and Care Professions Council so they can work in hospitals now, before officially graduating in the summer.

Student Joseph Wilmshurst is currently on placement at the respiratory virus unit at Public Health England Colindale.

Since starting his placement in September, Joseph had been heavily involved in the processing of samples from patients with flu-like illnesses.

This work was enhanced in February in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

He said: “I was involved in the processing and testing of patient samples from the outset.

“Having been involved in a busy flu season, and the experience I gained from this, I knew that I would be able to offer support to my colleagues in testing samples while operating under pressure and meeting turnaround targets.

“It is good to be involved in a current and ever-changing situation and, more than ever, feel that I am making a positive impact on patient care and public health.”

Anmol Chowdhury, who is on placement at the enteric virus unit at Public Health England Colindale, said: “I wanted to get involved as it would be a great opportunity to get frontline experience in detection and how pandemics are handled.”

Dr Selwa Alsam, director of the biomedical science course at the University’s School of Life Sciences, said although some hospitals have advised the placement students to work from home during the crisis, it had no deterred their enthusiasm to help during this difficult time for the NHS.

Dr Alsam is an expert in infection control and has worked alongside infection control teams for several years on bacterial and viral infections at Public Health and other NHS Departments.

She has also volunteered to help hospitals during the crisis.

“We are pleased our placement students and final year students are able to contribute to this important work during this pandemic,” she added.