What is the Pathology Modernisation Programme?

What is the Pathology Modernisation Programme? It was initiated by the Department of Health some 10 years ago. Based on experience overseas, pathology departments were asked to network across laboratories to improve practice and share technology.

In the Southern region, the response to the DH locally was to establish a Clinical Reference Group (CRG) to oversee the Pathology Modernisation programme. The original purpose of the Clinical Reference Group (CRG), which comprises Trusts from Thames Valley and Wessex, was to offer clinical leadership to the proposed system changes that followed on from the recommendations of the Carter report.  Within the South Central region, the response to Carter was a proposal for large-scale laboratory consolidation across the North and South of the patch.  Although the Clinical Reference Group was set up initially to facilitate and advise on quality standards during this process, subsequent analysis showed that the proposals were not robust, were unlikely to deliver the savings outlined and were likely to lead to a reduction in quality, safety and turn-around times across the region. 

CRG therefore supported an approach which was more clinically driven and which would lead to local consolidation and rationalization where it made sense to do so. 

Additionally, CRG saw its purpose as raising the profile of pathology services across the region, and ensuring that the critical role of diagnostics to the improvement of patient care in this part of the country received the emphasis that is necessary if we are to deliver the quality and safety improvements which are regionally envisaged.  With the anticipated demise of the SHA, the CRG saw an enhanced opportunity to do this and therefore set up a strategic partnership with the Thames Valley Knowledge Team to help them with this part of their vision.  Central to this vision was the notion of a wider clinical network of engaged practitioners with an interest in innovation.  This built on earlier work which had been delivered around a leadership programme for younger clinicians and scientists which had been well supported.  It was recognised that it is not practical for large numbers of clinicians to attend the meetings of the CRG. Similarly, this is a concern for the nearly 2000 scientific staff who are directly employed in the labs.  Work is therefore progressing on evolving a way to involve more people using an innovative approach to network development; and also to gather together, on a website and through regular communications, information on service innovations that could be shared more widely. 


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