Penzance Costa UK's first coffee shop 'Drive Thru' blood test centre as coronavirus social distancing measures continue

A coffee shop in Cornwall has become the UK's first to offer a drive-through blood test clinic.

The Costa Coffee store in Penzance started offering the service after a request from a St Clare Medical Centre GP, to make sure people who need regular blood tests can still get them while social distancing regulations are in place.

We carry out a lot of blood tests on a lot of people, and wanted to reduce the risks at this difficult time.

Dr Matthew Boulter, St Clare's practice partner

The practice carries out a number of routine blood tests on their patients who take the blood-thinning medication Warfarin.

They had concerns about how best to carry out the regular pin-prick blood tests during the coronavirus crisis while following the lockdown and social distancing rules.

As a solution, nurse practitioner and partner Tracey Hembrough came upwith the idea of using an existing drive-through.

The practice got in touch with the manager of the branch on social media, who immediately agreed to the shop being used while it was closed.

After the intitial go-ahead, Costa's regional manager said the company gave their full support to the novel solution.

Another unique trait of the new drive-through service is their security guards - who happen to be Cornish Pirates rugby players.

Simon Edwards and Alan Paver, of Cornish Pirates RFC, assisting at the clinic. Credit: Cornwall Live/BPM Media

Players from the RFU Championship side are on site to make sure potential customers turning up for a brew are politely turned away, and to handle rising tensions if patients are faced with long waits to be tested.

According to Dr Boulter, the Cornish Pirates players didn’t take a lotof persuading to continue their security duties at the drive-through.

We’ve had big queues at the St Clare Pharmacy and after waiting an hour some people have been a bit teasy with staff.

Dr Matthew Boulter, St Clare's practice partner
The practice says the scheme could be one of the things that start in Cornwall and spread up the country. Credit: Cornwall Live/BPM Media

A trial run took place today [April 7], and is currently on accessible to patients of St Clare's three practices - but will soon be extending to other GP surgeries in Penwith.

Around 50 patients drove up and stuck their arm out their car windows to have a nurse administer a finger-prick test, in what has been described as 'fleeting contact at arms length'.

Dr Boulter hopes the scheme is just 'the beginning of the line' in Penzance, and that places across the country will adopt something similar.

The surgical wing of St Clare Medical Centre has now been set up as aCOVID-19 wing, though Dr Boulter said the majority of suspectedcoronavirus cases have been assessed over the phone.