Human Medicine:

Southwest Pathology Services

Formed in 2012, Southwest Pathology Services (SPS) is a joint venture between SYNLAB, Somerset NHS Foundation Trust and Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. The partnership serves a population of around 500,000 and delivers services to the two Trusts and more than 100 GP practices.

Originally, there was a single site at each hospital with both undertaking similar urgent and non-urgent tests. We developed a central ‘hub’ laboratory in Taunton with an ‘essential services laboratory’ on each hospital site to provide urgent testing.

Investing, Modernising and Transforming

SYNLAB has led the modernisation and refurbishment of laboratory facilities, having invested in new, state-of-the-art equipment and fully integrated IT systems. Best practice has been implemented with careful optimisation of laboratories to make the best use of people, time and resources. As a result, the partnership has been able to transform pathology services, delivering improvements in quality, delivery and efficiency.

Digital Scanning and Access

Southwest Pathology Services was one of the first NHS laboratory networks in the UK to implement digital slide scanning and remote reporting, with more than 170,000 slides scanned every year. We have been able to introduce faster, more efficient processes by digitising workflow, increasing accuracy and enabling real-time case discussion.

Testing

Southwest Pathology Services carries out more than 7.5 million tests each year, offering more than 1,400 different types of tests across the following disciplines:

  • Andrology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cytopathology
  • Haematology and Blood Transfusion
  • Histopathology
  • Immunology
  • Microbiology and Infection Control
  • Molecular Biology
  • Virology
We are proud to have been among the first to introduce COVID-19 testing within our Taunton laboratory to
support patients and NHS staff in both hospital and community settings.
Quality

Southwest Pathology Services operates a robust, integrated governance structure, with decision-making led by NHS clinicians. We use a comprehensive quality management system to ensure that all testing operations and reporting meet quality standards, accreditation and regulatory requirements and, ultimately, that services are safe and responsive to patient and clinical need.

Southwest Pathology Services is UKAS-accredited against ISO15189 across tests listed in the our accreditation schedule, which can be found here.

Benefits Delivered by Southwest Pathology Services Include
  • More than £5million invested in modern, state-of-the-art laboratory facilities, equipment and implementation of IT, technology and new ways of working
  • Significantly faster turnaround times for the most frequently requested blood tests by acute hospitals: 22% faster for urgent, and 29% faster for non-urgent tests at Musgrove Park Hospital; and 41% and 38% respectively at Yeovil District Hospital1
  • Test results for more than 9 in 10 blood tests taken from A&E patients available within one hour
  • Overall year-on-year reduction in the cost of pathology services to the NHS2
  • 1,150m2 of NHS land and estate freed up for alternative use by the NHS
  • Access to SYNLAB’s international research and development, and scientific expertise and technology resources
  1. James, Truman (2015). Improvement in laboratory test turnaround times for inpatients following move to hub and spoke of delivery. Practical Laboratory Medicine. Volume 1
  2. James (2016). The Benefits of Joining a Joint Venture for Pathology, HSJ
Testimony

Turnaround times for urgent tests have massively improved. The partnership with SYNLAB has helped both hospitals to use the same IT and equipment platforms. If anything were to fail at Yeovil District Hospital or Taunton now, we can quickly move samples around the network to mitigate risk. This is perhaps one of the greatest challenges we had in the past that has been addressed via this partnership.

Paul Mears, Former Chief Executive, Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Introducing Southwest Pathology Services

Here is a short video which includes some footage of our SPS laboratories and describes the service we provide in more detail. It was filmed before the UKAS ISO 15189 accreditation was introduced in September 2018 to replace CPA standards, but otherwise remains relevant.

Relevant Accreditations
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