Published: 17th August 2022
As part of SYNLAB UK & Ireland (‘SYNLAB’), Southwest Pathology Services (‘SPS’) is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its partnership between Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, Yeovil District Hospital Foundation Trust and SYNLAB. SYNLAB’s pathology partnership with the NHS has dramatically improved testing turnaround times, improved the quality of the service, and enabled access to modern laboratories and equipment by investing millions of pounds in state-of-the-art laboratories and technology.
Formed in 2012, SPS was the first of SYNLAB’s NHS partnerships to implement a ‘hub and spoke ’ pathology network, supporting delivery of the NHS’s national clinical vision for pathology services. The hub and spoke model has produced 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 Hospital.
The SPS main ‘hub’ laboratory is located on Lisieux Way in Taunton, with a smaller on-site ‘spoke’ laboratory at Musgrove Hospital and another located at the Yeovil District Hospital. The hub laboratory focuses on routine and specialist testing, whereas the hospital-based sites provide urgent testing services for hospital patients and emergencies. Each year, the laboratories provide pathology services to more than 500,000 people in Somerset.
More than £5million has been invested into modern, state-of-the-art laboratory facilities, equipment and implementation of IT, technology and new ways of working for the NHS.
The original vision of the SYNLAB hospital partnership was to bring SYNLAB’s extensive pathology expertise to support delivery of healthcare to the NHS, putting the patient at the heart of everything we do. By creating the Southwest Pathology Services partnership, we were able to realise this vision with investment in new hub laboratory premises, state-of-the-art equipment throughout all sites, changing the way we work, and an enthusiastic and committed workforce.Lynda Kazer, SPS General Manager
In 2021, the three laboratories performed more than 8 million individual tests across 1,400 different test types covering a range of disciplines. More than 200 dedicated scientists and support staff operate the laboratories 24 hours a day throughout the year.
SPS 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. It has been able to introduce faster, more efficient processes by digitising workflow, increasing accuracy and enabling real-time case discussion.
SPS is proud to have been among the first to introduce COVID-19 testing within its Taunton hub laboratory to support patients and NHS staff in both hospital and community settings. Between April 2020 and February 2022, SPS performed almost 600,000 COVID-19 tests.
SPS operates a robust, integrated governance structure, with decision-making led by NHS clinicians. It uses 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. SPS is UKAS-accredited against ISO15189 across all its tests.
The partnership has delivered a robust pathology service to the people of Somerset. Looking ahead to the next 10 years, SPS remains committed to continuous improvement through innovation and technology, and on ensuring a robust, innovative and modern service which meets the evolving needs of patients, clinicians and the wider NHS.
We are proud to be ahead of the pathology curve at SPS, embracing technology and ways to improve both the quality of the service we provide to patients and the NHS, as well as the workplace.Matthew Barnett, Business Transformation Manager, SYNLAB Transformation Systems
Cutting-edge automation has brought efficiencies and opened up capacity in our higher throughput services, while process management systems have supported other services such as Histology and HR.