Human Medicine:

Pathology First

Formed in 2014, Pathology First is a partnership between SYNLAB and Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, supporting Basildon and Thurrock Hospitals, Southend Hospital and more than 180 GP practices. It provides services to a population of 750,000 in the East of England and performs around 56,000 tests every day.

Based off-site in Basildon, Essex, our purpose-built, state-of-the-art hub laboratory undertakes consolidated, harmonised, routine testing as well as an increasing range of specialist laboratory work. This leaves the hospital-based ‘Essential Service Laboratories’ – also run by SYNLAB – to focus on urgent clinical laboratory tests, which require a fast turnaround time.

Investing into NHS Services and Facilities

SYNLAB’s involvement has enabled the partnership to invest in state-of-the-art laboratories, equipment and fully integrated IT systems. We have optimised laboratory layouts and improved processes so they are more efficient, enabling us to make the best use of people, time and resources. As a result we have delivered major improvements in the quality of services.

Our Pathology First hub laboratory based in Basildon, Essex
Delivering Major Transformation

SYNLAB has led the transformation of local pathology services, making them more responsive with significantly faster testing turnaround times. Nearly 9 in 10 urgent blood tests for A&E patients are now undertaken within 45 minutes, and we have saved the NHS up to 20p in every pound spent on pathology testing services.

We have also made substantial improvements in phlebotomy waiting times and satisfaction with the service. Every year, our phlebotomy services at Pathology First take 700,000 blood samples from patients using NHS community and hospital services.

NHS Pathology Partner of Choice

Pathology First was shortlisted as a finalist in the 2020 HSJ Awards for Best Healthcare Provider Partner with the NHS. This recognises the outstanding contribution the partnership has made to the quality of NHS healthcare and to patients and clinicians.


Pathology First processes an average of 280,000 tests every week. These cover 1,500 different types of test across the following disciplines:

  • Blood Transfusion
  • Cellular Pathology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Haematology and Coagulation
  • Immunology
  • Microbiology
  • Phlebotomy
  • Virology

Pathology First maintains a robust integrated governance structure, with clinical 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.

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

Benefits delivered by Pathology First include:
  • Significantly faster testing turnaround times, with nearly 9 in 10 blood tests for A&E patients completed within 45 minutes.
  • Around £12million invested in the introduction of modern, state-of-the-art laboratories with new and improved equipment
  • Savings for the NHS of up to 20p in every pound spent on pathology testing services
  • 1,750m2 of NHS land and estate freed up for alternative use by the NHS
  • Installation of integrated IT systems linking laboratories and referral sites
  • One of the first NHS partnership pathology networks, including phlebotomy services, to be granted UKAS multi-site accreditation

Pathology First represents an incredible transformation and modernisation of two of our hospitals’ pathology services. Without our partnership with SYNLAB, we would not have had the capital to invest in new equipment, the expertise to transform the service, nor the innovation to bring a new generation of tests to our patients. In addition, SYNLAB’s involvement has enabled our hospitals to achieve substantial savings in the cost of local pathology testing services.
Our three laboratories have achieved faster testing turnaround times, shorter patient waits, additional laboratory capacity to take on more work, and a more resilient service. This significant transformation has been delivered at the same time as continuing to deliver a high quality pathology service.

Clare Panniker, Chief Executive, Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust
Relevant Accreditations
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