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Partnership to create leading pathology service for south Essex gets formal go-ahead

29 August 2014

Health Care

An innovative partnership to secure routine pathology services in south Essex has been given the green light by the Competition and Markets Authority.

Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and  Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, confirmed  earlier this year that they were teaming  up with private laboratory Integrated Pathology Partnerships (iPP) in a joint venture that will ensure the future of local pathology services.

It means pathology services will remain local to both trusts, ensuring a quick and efficient service for patients who need tests to establish the nature of their illness.

The collaboration will also enable investment in new state-of-the-art equipment and processes, improving quality for patients.

The new service called Pathology First, will separate routine and non-routine work. This will be achieved by building a central hub laboratory to process and report routine work, for example most tests requested by GPs and from outpatient clinics. It will be enhanced by two 24/7 rapid response laboratories, one on each hospital site, to cover urgent tests for patients in A&E and inpatient wards.

In a joint statement Clare Panniker, BTUH chief executive, and Jacqueline Totterdell, SUHFT, chief executive said:  "This is welcome news in the development of this exciting joint venture which will secure the quality of local pathology services for patients in south Essex - it will be efficient, professional and safe.

"But it also represents a good deal for the NHS, utilising iPP's experience in large scale clinical laboratory operations. They will bring new experience and expertise and can add value in other ways including enhanced buying power, innovation and economies of scale."

Pathology services at both NHS trusts will continue as they currently are whilst the new 'hub' laboratory is built. There will be investment in the equipment used by both trusts to ensure patients and their clinicians see quick and accurate test results. There will also be investment in a new single pathology computer system, meaning test results will be available to clinicians for patients that move between Basildon and Southend Hospitals for treatment.

It is estimated that the new hub laboratory will be completed in autumn2015 when the service will move to a 'hub and spoke' model which is regarded as best practice for the delivery of pathology services.

The service will be led by consultant pathologists and all diagnostic reporting will be conducted, or approved, by them.