Plans to create a new pathology centre serving the whole of Lancashire will end the practice of the same blood test results being interpreted differently in different parts of the county.
The current anomaly emerged at the latest meeting of a group of healthcare commissioners overseeing proposals to transform NHS services in the area.
Jean Wright, Project Director for the Pathology Collaboration Project, said: “If a patient is in Blackburn, they might be within normal range [for a given blood test], but if they’re in Preston, they might be outside it.
“We don’t want different reference ranges across the patch – it doesn’t make any sense and doesn’t deliver a good service,” she told the Joint Committee of Clinical Commissioning Groups.
Lancaster University was revealed late last year as the preferred location for a new pathology hub which would test all non-emergency outpatient samples from Lancashire and South Cumbria.
Urgent tests and those for inpatients would continue to be carried out at seven hospital sites in the region – Blackpool Victoria, Blackburn Hospital, Burnley General, Chorley and South Ribble Hospital, Furness General, Royal Lancaster Infirmary and Royal Preston Hospital.
Dr Amanda Doyle, the Integrated Care System Lead for Healthier Lancashire and South Cumbria, added the planned location, at the forthcoming health innovation campus in Lancaster, would mean the service was “not cut off from research”.
The new pathology centre, which will remain in the public sector, is due to open in 2021. A £31m grant to build the new facility – and redevelop urgent testing sites at hospitals – has already been approved by NHS England.
Members were advised the plans could save £11m per year – representing up to 15 per cent of current spending on pathology.
across the four NHS trusts involved – and either free-up space for other services at individual hospitals or reduce overheads.