Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust joins forces with Surrey Pathology Services

Friday, March 3, 2017

Following formal sign off by the joint Trusts board of the business case, the next stage of integration of Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust’s pathology service with Surrey Pathology Services (SPS) has been given the go ahead. This newly formed joint venture will be known as Berkshire and Surrey Pathology Services (BSPS).

The complete service model encompasses a multi-site strategy with key hubs and rapid response laboratories at each acute site approach. The board have employed a consultative approach throughout with a process that includes the engagement and consultation of the service model with the staff.

BSPS services a population of over 2.2 million and performs in excess of 27 million tests a year. This newly formed pathology service will provide four NHS Trusts and five acute hospitals with a combined, integrated and modern pathology service. The Trusts involved include Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, Ashford and St. Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust.

All the trusts involved agreed to and embrace the guiding principles of the formation of BSPS, i.e. the provision of ahigh-quality, safe, effective, and consultant-led NHS pathology service. BSPS is a patient centred organisation, trusted to provide all aspects of a quality pathology service with a single integrated governance and managerial structure and a unified budgetary framework.  One of the key reasons to create a new and innovative pathology service is to enhance the patient experience and improve service quality. With the changing model of care across the whole health economy resulting in fewer acute and more community based services, BSPS’ leadership in the use of Point of Care Testing (Labkit “lab in a bag” as piloted by Frimley Health ambulance service) will deliver essential flexibility and adaptability of service provision to smaller units and to patients.

With the ability to offer such a diverse range of testing services and specialist investigations in house, appropriate to the needs of their hospitals, GPs and patients, BSPS are able to optimise service capacity providing a greater service resilience and improved business continuity planning. This leads to a more efficient use of resources to support research and other healthcare organisations and also supports the trusts in strengthening relationships with commissioners and enabling additional opportunities for growth. Substantial financial benefits are also anticipated through significant economies of scale, thus reducing costs while creating significant opportunities for growth to ensure long-term sustainability of the clinical service. The creation of BSPS increases the opportunities for investments in modernisation and new technologies and increases purchasing power, enabling better prices for equipment and laboratory consumables.  A pathology network of this nature allows for effective and efficient use of real-estate and equipment over the various laboratories.  The BSPS project model is financially strong and funded through reinvestment savings. The BSPS board are confident that real savings can be readily achieved and will be offering a 2 year return of any initial investment.

Fundamental to the success of BSPS is the provision of an integrated IT platform. CliniSys has been a long-time partner of SPS and, using the existing contract to facilitate the upgrade to the market leading WinPath Enterprise, was the natural option for pathology IT partner to BSPS. BSPS will benefit from a single and fully integrated laboratory information system for all areas of pathology necessary to provide the service with the right level of flexibility and customisation to achieve the data connectivity and integration goals.

This single pathology IT solution and central LIMS database, currently being deployed and with the first phase nearing completion, will enable the move to increased standardisation and quality of processes. It will also provide full access to all patient data across all laboratory locations no matter where the tests are performed. As patients move between the various trusts and hospital sites for treatment, having the ability to view test results from all laboratory locations is doubly beneficial to clinicians and consultants.

Dr Ian Fry MBE, Director of Pathology, Surrey Pathology Services said: “The laboratory information system is a mission critical component to underpin the project transformation aims; to have an integrated, high quality pathology service that maximises innovation, technology while driving efficiency and effectiveness. CliniSys’ incumbent multi-site deployment, its upgrade to WinPath Enterprise and extension to the new laboratory sites will give us the necessary levels of functionality and flexibility to all aspects of the service.”

It is also important to focus on supporting areas outside of the laboratory such as logistics management, centralised transport facilities and Point of Care Testing (POCT). BSPS’ investment in POCT is extensive as they move away from the traditional model of laboratory based processes to adopt the latest patient pathways. Dr Ian Fry continues “The pathology boundaries are constantly shifting with GPs having greater insight in how they manage their patients and performing tests themselves via POCT. BSPS is able to provide a “mobile solution” and extend our service outside of the laboratory to support these tests especially in the area of chronic disease.  This results in less samples in the labs and delivers efficiencies of moving from a consolidation approach to a decentralisation model thus increasing capacity.

Simon Hurst, Commercial Director at CliniSys, comments “As pathology service modernisers, Ian Fry and his team at BSPS demand solutions that deliver a total Pathology IT platform that exceeds the traditional boundaries of the laboratory. We are delighted to be working in partnership with such innovators and look forward to providing the systems that will be fundamental in supporting the service’s successes”.

Dr Ian Fry concludes, “The BSPS model will enable our multiple trusts and laboratories to work together in a more collaborative fashion and offers our patients a centre of excellence providing all aspects of a quality pathology service”.