G4S has been an integral part of the UK’s response to COVID-19. At 15 of the testing sites across the UK, G4S provides overall site management. That means G4S’s facilities management team has been responsible for setting up the sites from scratch, organizing the supply chain, as well as cleaning, waste management and traffic flow. Most of these sites are secured by G4S security officers. Four NHS Nightingale temporary hospitals, another important part of the UK government’s response to the crisis, are also kept secure by G4S security staff.
“We’ve got setting up testing sites down to a fine art,” says Alex Lever, G4S Facilities Management’s project leader for COVID-19 testing centers. “We got to this point very quickly using our expertise in this area. Our employees from all over the UK have been ready to step up and redeploy to these sites. It’s understandably fast paced - having 24 to 48 hours notice is standard. Anything more than that is a bonus.”
On site, G4S does everything except administer the tests, which is done by pharmacy chain Boots. Sites are divided into three zones: green, amber and red, depending on the level of personal protective equipment (PPE) required. No-one works without the correct PPE, and everyone must practice social distancing. “We’re responsible for anybody on site. Their safety and well-being is the priority,” Lever says. “We order all the testing kits. We manage delivery and the logistics of the kits being taken for testing, alongside the necessary documentation. We build the kits and hand them to Boots. We book people in, we process their tests, and we make sure that kit follows them from beginning to end.”
“We are out there on the ground, helping do our bit,” adds Dave Bellas, G4S Secure Solutions Area Manager for North England. He oversaw the site’s risk assessment. “It’s been our job to ensure those who need to get tested can get tested. It’s an emotional time. Deloitte has been exceptional, really. We’ve all had a very ‘can-do’ attitude. If there’s a problem, just fix it. It’s a very proactive and positive environment considering the tough circumstances.”
Jo Pipes, G4S Facilities Management Account Manager, has helped set up five sites: Haydock Park, Preston, Bradford, Hull and at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester. The site in Manchester is the UK’s biggest: 12 lanes of drive-through self-testing designed to cater to thousands of the nation’s crucial workers. There are 20 lanes in total.
Other sites that G4S staff has set up sites include Leicester, Bristol, Ipswich, Greenwich, Worcester, Bradford, Ebbsfleet and more.
“No-one has done this before,” Pipes says. “It has all come together so quickly - traffic, logistics, testing. There are also mobile transport units being set up to run out of the testing centres.”