Circular1 Health is a revolutionary testing service, born out of the COVID-19 crisis. Created to enable mission-critical organisations in the energy and defence sectors to ‘stay open’ and continue to operate with safe staffing levels. The company provides a portfolio of fully customised and fully managed workforce screening services to large corporate entities.
Creating a robust COVID-19 testing company in 10 days
When coronavirus forced the first nationwide lockdown in March 2020, ensuring the continuity of essential services became the no.1 priority. This, in turn, depended on protecting the health of millions of key workers across the UK. And it was no easy task. The high infection and transmission rates of the virus, and the lack of available testing options at this early stage of the pandemic, created significant challenges.
“It was clear that there was an urgent need for a rapid response to the disruptions created by COVID-19. Circular1 Health was set up in just 10 days with one mission in mind: providing bespoke testing services for organisations in the nuclear, defence and energy sectors that had to remain operational by necessity and literally ‘keep the lights on’ for UK citizens,” says Stuart MacLennan, CEO of Circular1 Health.
Bringing together leading specialists with deep expertise in rapid diagnostics, bio-security and data, the revolutionary new testing service company was born. Headquartered in Carlisle, Cumbria, Circular1 Health immediately reached out to local business groups and Resilience Forums to offer its support.
“The Sellafield nuclear site was one of the first organisations to turn to us for help. Employing more than 10,000 people from across Cumbria, it had reduced numbers of workers on site to critical levels. It now urgently needed to find a way to maintain the integrity and safety of the remaining core key workers responsible for the safety and security of the site,” continues Stuart.
Within days, Circular1 Health had defined a fully managed testing service customised to Sellafield’s exact needs. Featuring a fully manned on-site lab and testing facility together with a digital reporting platform to deliver instant results for Sellafield’s management, workers and their families. The race was on to get the service up and running in a matter of weeks. But, as Stuart MacLennan explains, any anticipated go-live was reliant on Circular1 Health obtaining the all-important insurance cover it needed.
“The tight timescales involved represented a significant enough challenge in normal business-as-usual times. But at the height of the pandemic, when insurance companies were highly risk-averse to anything COVID-19 related, we knew we faced a major uphill battle to obtain the necessary business cover.”
Representing a major make-or-break scenario for the still nascent company and its first customer – Sellafield - Stuart turned to insurance broker Marsh Commercial to help it resolve the situation.
Reacting fast to a unique business need
With the clock ticking, Marsh Commercial’s Carlisle-based team sprang into action. Marsh Commercial needed to build a unique insurance product fast. Working through the night and at weekends, the Carlisle team partnered with parent-company Marsh and its specialist PI team based in Bristol, to create a policy that could be written on a contract-by-contract basis. A policy that includes the all-important medical malpractice cover that was essential to cover the administration of sample collection from individuals looking to be tested.
“Marsh Commercial was nothing short of brilliant and turned this around incredibly fast for us. They created a tailor-made solution that ensured our start-up company could actually begin to deliver a live service within four weeks. The team’s ‘can do’ attitude makes it a perfect match for a company such as ours that believes that any problem can be solved if you apply know-how and out-of-the-box thinking,” says Stuart.
The success of the programme at Sellafield meant that other major infrastructure operators soon got in touch with Stuart. In the past months, organisations such as BAE, EDF, Rolls Royce, Jacobs, Crossrail and Babcock have all turned to Circular1 Health to create screening programmes to ensure their people are going to work safely.
Alongside its fixed laboratories based in London, Manchester, Barrow and Guildford, the company now operates a number of modular mobile testing laboratories at a variety of sites around the UK including Gatwick and Luton airports.
“In less than a year, we went from being an innovative start-up to a fully-fledged business employing some 250 personnel. None of this would have been possible if Marsh Commercial hadn’t been able to secure the critical business insurance and professional indemnity cover we needed at launch,” states Stuart.
Looking to the future
Rather than resting on its laurels, Circular1 Health is already building the foundations for a its new proactive health programme called Me & My Health. Designed to help individuals proactively manage their own heath in collaboration with their employers, Me and My Health not only supports individuals but, by reinforcing the cycle of wellness and health, will encourage healthier and more sustainable workplaces too.
“We’re actively committed to promoting and supporting positive physical and mental health, direct and through our partnerships with other private and public sector organisations,” says Stuart.
Alongside expanding into personal health and welfare environments and launching an online service for individuals that want to test privately or for travel, Circular1 Health has already begun broadening its portfolio – aiming to democratise healthcare through the provision of proactive health checks to help people make the right lifestyle decisions.
To realise this ambitious vision, the company is currently investing in its own manufacturing facilities and has set up a new Academy in Cumbria to develop local skills and jobs.
“We have a brilliant working relationship with Marsh Commercial – one that has enabled us to scale our business and extend into new markets. We trust Marsh Commercial to work alongside us in a highly collaborative manner, and their insights have helped us turn concepts into a workable commercial reality.”