Sheffield diagnostics firm wins £200m deal to test 4m Londoners for STIs

Maria Gemenetzi, senior laboratory technician, and Tim Alston, technical director at Preventx.
Maria Gemenetzi, senior laboratory technician, and Tim Alston, technical director at Preventx.

A Sheffield diagnostics company has a won a £200m contract to test Londoners for sexually transmitted infections.

Preventx will receive up to 4m test-at-home kits a year from residents in the capital who want a check-up.

The London Sexual Health Transformation Programme, funded by 29 boroughs, aims to cut STI rates and reduce pressure on clinics.

The firm already provides a chlamydia screening service for 100 local authorities in England and also operates Public Health England’s HIV testing initiatives.

Preventx moved to larger premises on Meadowhall Business Park in June.

Tim Alston, technical director, said: “This contract win is an exciting time for us and also an important step forward in health screening.

“Our relocation to Meadowhall Business Park marked the beginning of a new phase in the development and expansion of Preventx meaning a bigger premises and the upgrade of our testing facilities to become more efficient, and have room to expand.

“Previously we were conducting more than 150,000 health screenings a year, now we are looking at up to four million. Our new base has that capacity.

“We already have a track record of providing services for patients and working in partnership with the NHS across the country.

“We are now also looking at recruiting extra staff on top of our current team of 15.”

Preventx will be the lead provider, but will have support from Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust, Lloyds Pharmacy and health professional booking site Zesty. The contract lasts up to nine years.

A new website will guide people through a risk assessment to identify the most appropriate tests.

A self-sampling kit is posted out to complete at home, which is sealed and posted to Sheffield. Results are sent by text or telephone.

Richard Burns, of ARBA Group which owns the business park, said: “This is fantastic news for Preventx. The flexibility of accommodation here allowed for their laboratories to be state of the art and deal with the extra capacity.”