David Morris MP welcomes Government investment into a new pathology service

Between £20m – 50m will be invested in consolidating the pathology services across the Lancashire and South Cumbria Sustainability and Transformation partnership.

It is proposed to invest in a purpose built pathology hub facility providing ‘cold’ pathology testing, and purpose built essential service labs located in acute hospital sites, providing the delivery of emergency and inpatient testing.

The scheme will represent a pooled investment for modern pathology equipment and facilities, avoid duplication of testing and delays in diagnosis, facilitate multi-disciplinary working with improved economies of scale whilst supporting patient choice regarding how they access services.

Detailed scheme description:

As with other healthcare services, the Pathology Service is facing a range of challenges including:
• Growing Demand and or complexity of test requests
• New Technology developing at a faster pace than current individual trust resources allow
• Workforce challenges both in recruitment, retention and sustainability
• Meeting current Trusts efficiency targets

In order to address these challenges currently three of the four Trusts (BTHT, LTH and UHMB) in the Lancashire & South Cumbria STP region agreed to explore consolidation of pathology services under a single pathology service configuration in phase one of the project.  They have established a pathology collaboration project under the governance of a pathology programme board and have developed plans up to strategic outline business case. The vision for service delivery is a hub and spoke model consolidating all ‘cold’ pathology testing in a hub facility located off hospital sites and the delivery of emergency and inpatient testing from essential service labs (ESLs) located in acute hospital sites.

Various reviews of pathology, drawing on national and international best practice, have identified a range of potential benefits from collaborative pathology services formed by multiple trusts:
• The opportunity to utilise increasingly scarce skills and resources across a broader geography, which also creates opportunities to improve the recruitment, retention and development of key staff.
• Sufficient scale to invest in new technologies, and to undertake lower volume specialist tests which may otherwise be undertaken outside the area reducing turnaround times.
• Standardisation of equipment, IT systems, training, quality systems, and standard operating procedures, which ensures that test results from any lab in the region will be comparable and available to all clinicians and aid demand management.
• Greater efficiency and reduced costs from consolidating non- urgent or cold tests, pooling procurement and sharing overheads.
• Reduction in acute hospital estate by locating a pathology hub off hospital estate.

The bid is for capital to support the design and build of the offsite hub and the creation of the ESLs where required.

David Morris MP said: "I am delighted that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has again showed his commitment to healthcare excellence in our area by providing Government funding for this exciting new project. In order to ensure that health in our area keeps improving it is vital that we are able to secure Government investment to be innovative and to ensure patients receive world class care and diagnostics."