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 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 with staff and external partners. The project aims to provide a streamlined, sustainable service which is clinically and cost effective.

In Lancashire and South Cumbria, pathology staff and other stakeholders have been - and will be - fully involved in reviewing how services currently operate. Working groups have been finalising a number of clinical models and these will form the basis of the outline business case about how we configure our services in the future. All the options retain some pathology services in every hospital and centralising all pathology services is not an option that is being considered.

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These are the key messages about the progress of the collaboration:

  • We are planning to develop a collaborative pathology service across Lancashire and South Cumbria. 
  • 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 regularly.
  • 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 the current system would be unable to do, such as technological advances using personal genomic profiles to make cancer treatments more effective.

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 Gillian Crankshaw.

Formation of a Single Pathology Service for Lancashire & South Cumbria 

In 21/22 work had progressed to form a single pathology service by 1 July 2022. There is an absolute commitment from all partners in the collaboration to deliver the benefits this will bring in relation to quality, resilience and improved outcomes for patients and the national drive for collaboration is stronger than ever. 

Im March 2022, the Pathology Collaboration Board took the decision to pause the process in order to do some further listening and engagement with those employees who are affected by the proposed changes with the aim of developing the future delivery model in partnership.  Further work on the development of the full business case for the future delivery model is also paused.  Having this pause in the programme of work will allow for further discussion and reflection to collectively agree the way forward with the aim of providing the best service for patients. 

In April 2022, the Board agreed to a renewed process of engagement to capture all voices and invite views on an appropriate structure for the future service, the clinical model and future delivery framework focusing on how the future service will be provided. This engagement will run over a three month period and will form the basis of recommendations made to the Board later in the year to determine a decision about how pathology services should be configured across Lancashire & South Cumbria in the future. 

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