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Pathology is the study of disease, its causes and progression.

Nearly every patient in the NHS has had dealings with pathology services at some point. Every time you give a sample, it is analysed by a pathologist or pathology scientist, known as a biomedical or clinical scientist, depending on their skills and qualifications.

Pathologists look for abnormalities within samples but, quite often, these tests are performed to confirm everything is OK. Through preventative screenings, tests can help with the early detection of potentially fatal conditions.

Pathology also plays a major role in research, such as finding treatments for cancer and ensuring that blood transfusions are safe.

Collaboration across Lancashire and South Cumbria

Four hospital trusts in Lancashire and South Cumbria are collaboratively working together to improve these pathology services for patients.

Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, East Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and University Hospitals Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, have been working on this project for a number of months, working with staff and external partners.

The project aims to provide a streamlined, sustainable service which is clinically and cost effective and is part of a national strategy led my NHS Improvement.

In Lancashire and South Cumbria, pathology staff and other stakeholders have been fully involved in reviewing how services currently operate. We are currently scoping options for different models of service provision. All the options retain some pathology services in every hospital and centralising all pathology services is not an option that is being considered.

In July 2018, an update on the work of the Pathology Collaboration was presented to the Lancashire and South Cumbria Joint Committee of Clinical Commissioning Groups. These are the key messages about the progress:

  • We are planning to develop a collaborative pathology service across Lancashire and South Cumbria. The timetable for change sees full implementation by 2022 subject to approval of the relevant business cases of the Trust Board organisations involved. Please note: The timeline has been reassessed as a result of additional information required by NHS Improvement to approve the Strategic Outline Case due to the inclusion of East Lancashire Hospitals in the project.
  • The development of pathology collaboration supports the priorities of the ICS. The service will remain an NHS service delivered by NHS staff.
  • We have involved staff including clinicians in meetings throughout the year to produce the plans for the service going forward, and staff update sessions for all staff are held on a monthly basis.
  • As a diagnostic support service which is largely non patient facing, patients will not have to travel further or be affected adversely.
  • The collaboration will ensure sustainability of the service and achieve value for money in terms of efficiencies.
  • A larger, more sustainable service will be able to develop services to adopt the new technology that smaller services would be unable to do, such as technological advances using personal genomic profiles to make cancer treatments more effective.

More information about the Joint Committee of Clinical Commissioning Groups is available on the Healthier Lancashire and South Cumbria website:

If you want more details, or would like to get involved in the review being undertaken by the Lancashire and South Cumbria Pathology Partnership, please contact

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