Human Medicine:

New Pathology Partnership to Transform Patient Care in UK Capital

1st April 2021

A partnership that will transform pathology services and help to improve the quality of patient care across South East London has today gone live.

Over the next 15 years SYNLAB, Europe’s leading medical diagnostic services provider, will work in collaboration with Guy’s and St Thomas’, and King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trusts to deliver and transform pathology services for hospitals, GPs, community services and other NHS healthcare providers.

Pathology plays a key role in supporting the diagnosis of illness and devising new treatments to fight viruses, infections and diseases, and has been critical in helping to formulate the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Calling on the knowledge gained through its existing and highly successful NHS partnerships, SYNLAB will implement a ‘hub and spoke’ pathology model, building state-of-the-art laboratories that offer faster, more consistent and higher-quality testing services to help speed up diagnosis and clinical decision making. This will enable more people to be cared for in the community and support better management of patient flows within hospitals.

Cutting-edge IT systems will link laboratories with referral sites, providing easier, quicker and remote access to testing services and results for clinicians in hospitals as well as in the community, so that patient need will be managed more effectively across primary, community and acute healthcare services.

This modern approach will also help to prevent avoidable hospital admissions, accelerate patient discharge, enable faster transitions for individuals onto appropriate clinical pathways and ultimately deliver cost and time efficiencies for the NHS.

Under the new SYNLAB/NHS partnership, Viapath will remain dedicated to enhancing professional development, and supporting and nurturing talent. A new hub laboratory will be home to a fully equipped training centre committed to excellence in pathology, offering learning and development opportunities to scientists, NHS clinicians, junior doctors and others working across all healthcare settings.

We are delighted to be working with our new NHS colleagues on this once-in-a-generation opportunity to deliver and transform pathology services, helping to improve the quality of care for people living in South East London as well as for the many patients using local healthcare services.

SYNLAB has a proven track record of working successfully with the NHS to provide high-class laboratory and pathology services, and we are passionate about making a difference to patients and clinicians by providing reliable, effective and timely diagnostic information.

Our international portfolio of services and network of experts will provide a shared learning and best-practice resource that will have a deep and lasting positive impact on local healthcare services.

Mark Dollar, Chief Executive Officer for SYNLAB UK and Ireland

As well as delivering pathology services and in line with the NHS’s own clinical vision and strategy, SYNLAB will be responsible for transforming existing hospital-based laboratory and diagnostic services into an integrated hub and spoke pathology network by 2024.

A state-of-the-art ‘hub’ laboratory will be developed at Friars Bridge Court, in Blackfriars Road, London, providing access to improved services and equipment for routine and some specialist testing. On-site hospital laboratories will be turned into essential services laboratories (the spokes), focusing on the rapid turnaround of urgent tests, such as those needed for A&E departments.

The hub will become one of the largest, purpose-built pathology laboratories in the UK, capable of processing around 70 per cent of all pathology activity in the region.

SYNLAB and the NHS have demonstrated in their other UK hub and spoke partnerships that separating urgent from non-urgent pathology workflows can dramatically improve testing turnaround times, while freeing up valuable NHS hospital estate to be used for other patient services.

The same excellent scientists, clinicians and other colleagues from Viapath and the NHS will continue to work under the new partnership arrangements, and their knowledge and expertise will greatly benefit the transformation process. The partnership will serve 1.7 million people living in South East London, as well as hundreds of thousands of patients from outside the region who use local healthcare services.

In addition to Guy’s and St Thomas’, and King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trusts, the other NHS organisations participating in the new pathology partnership are South London and Maudsley, and Oxleas NHS Foundation Trusts. They will be joined by the NHS South East London Clinical Commissioning Group, encompassing GP practices, clinics and other community services across the boroughs of Bromley, Lambeth and Southwark, as well as various NHS tertiary services across the UK. GP and some community services from the boroughs of Bexley, Greenwich and Lewisham will join later on in 2021.

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