4 October 2017

College statement on Essential Services Laboratories proposed by NHSI

NHS Improvement (NHSI) pathology networks
A recent announcement from NHSI proposes that pathology services be delivered via 29 net­works to deliver efficiency savings. Each network known as Essential Services Laboratories, will have a hub laboratory and several spokes. This forms part of the implementation of the recom­mendation of Lord Carter’s 2016 report on opera­tional productivity.
While support to improve the value of pathology­ services is welcomed, I have concerns about how realistic some of the proposals are, particularly without significant investment in workforce, IT, transport and buildings, and the potential detrimen­tal effect on training and research. I issued state­ments on behalf of the College and the Pathology Alliance raising these concerns. I have subsequently submitted a more detailed response to NHSI (below) and hope that the points raised will be taken into account. I am assured by NHSI that the proposals are a starting point for discussion and not prescriptive, giving Trusts the opportunity to submit alternative plans as long as they follow the princi­ples of networked working and reduction in unwar­ranted variation.
A compendium of Bulletin articles in which members share their experience of consolidation and the lessons they have learnt is available. We have shared it with MPs and other stakeholders. You may wish to bring it to the attention of the teams leading on developing your local network.