Three NHS trusts are joining forces to improve the delivery of vital blood and tissue tests for patients in seven London hospitals and their local communities.
As many as four in five clinical diagnoses depend on pathology testing, and demand for the service is growing across the NHS from both hospital clinicians and GPs.
The three Trusts currently process more than 100,000 tests a day between them, and believe they can provide better, faster services for their patients if they come together in a new pathology partnership.
Proposals to go forward in developing a full business case for a pathology partnership were agreed by the boards of Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust and Barts Health NHS Trust.
The proposal aims to keep local pathology services in the public sector as an integral part of the NHS, rather than out-sourcing to the private sector as some other trusts have done.
This solution involves developing local pathology laboratories for urgent and time-critical tests at Homerton, Lewisham, Woolwich, Whipps Cross, Newham and St Bartholomew’s hospitals. Routine and specialist tests would in future be processed by a central hub at The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel.
The proposal is in line with NHS moves to create a national network of pathology partnerships to help providers give patients safe, high quality, compassionate care within local health systems that are financially sustainable.
Under the partnership, the three Trusts will set up an arms-length organisation to manage the local laboratory network, employing almost 900 staff, from next year.
Alwen Williams, Group Chief Executive Officer of Barts Health NHS Trust, said: “We are one of the biggest providers of NHS pathology in the country and we are thrilled with the prospect of collaborating with Homerton and Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trusts to form a central pathology network that will help provide even better quality pathology services for our patients and the community, we look forward to partnering with our neighboring Trusts on this exciting new project.”
Tracey Fletcher, Chief Executive of Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are entering this potential partnership with our NHS colleagues as we see it as a way to ensure the continuing provision of safe and effective pathology services. We are clear that the new collaborative arrangements must support the efficient running of our acute hospital services, in particular our emergency department and other specialist areas.”
Ben Travis, Chief Executive of Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, said: “We are proud of our pathology staff and services, and we are excited about developing a partnership with Barts Health NHS Trust and Homerton University Hospital Foundation Trust. This partnership will ensure that local pathology services remain in the NHS and will help improve the quality of these services.”