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Pathology partnership secures services for local population

13 March 2014

Health Care

This week sees the launch of a new partnership that is set to deliver state of the art pathology service for patients in south Essex.

The new local service brings together the clinical expertise of Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and the investment and scientific knowledge of iPP (Integrated Pathology Partnership).

The venture will see investment of over £10m in modernising equipment and facilities to deliver an improved service for patients. In particular phlebotomy services will become more focussed around patients, improving their access to the service.

Clare Panniker, chief executive at Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Jacqueline Totterdell, chief executive at Southend University Hospital NHS Trust said:

"We have always been committed to ensuring our pathology services remain fit for the future and can provide a high quality of provision for the communities we serve.

"Bringing in a private sector partner allowed the trusts the best of both worlds - investment to transform our service, yet retaining NHS clinical leadership and a local service.

"iPP were selected as our preferred bidder because of their commitment to both our vision for growth and the quality of the service we provide.

"This partnership means we can invest in new state of the art equipment and processes, as well as improve quality, to deliver one of the most innovative pathology services in the country.

"iPP have already successfully formed a partnership with two NHS trusts in the south west of England so their knowledge and expertise as we move forward together will be invaluable."

The move is a response to the Lord Carter pathology review, which found that consolidating local pathology services could save the NHS £500 million to reinvest in other services. Initially, this meant moving local pathology services to Bedford, but following a high profile public campaign, local Clinical Commissioning Groups withdrew the plans to move community pathology out of the area.

The trusts underwent a joint procurement process to find an expert partner to help deliver pathology services, enabling them to keep them local, consultant led, and maintain the high quality provision that currently exists.

As part of the new service, the trusts and iPP will refurbish the existing hospital laboratories to process urgent testing. They are also building a brand new state of the art laboratory in south Essex to process non-urgent testing, due for completion in 2015. The heavy investment in these new laboratories will make pathology services more efficient for the local community.

The new service will continue to be governed by Southend and Basildon and Thurrock hospitals and the board of the new organisation will be made up of six representatives; two from Southend Hospital, two from Basildon and Thurrock Hospitals and two from iPP.

The new hub laboratory will also be subject to the same regulatory inspection including Clinical Pathology Accreditation (CPA) and Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MRHA)

Stuart Quin, chief executive from iPP said: 

"We are excited to be partnering with Southend University Hospital Trust and Basildon and Thurrock University Hospital Trust to transform the quality of the pathology service for patients in South Essex.

"iPP is investing over £10m to develop a state-of-the-art laboratory that will be located close to the existing Trusts.

"Whilst the hub laboratory will focus on routine testing, we shall retain vital diagnostic services on site at the hospitals for tests requiring more rapid turnaround.

"We have successfully delivered a similar service in Somerset and look forward to working closely with the pathology teams from both hospitals to deliver an improved service for patients in the region."