The four acute Trusts in the Black Country have agreed to work together to have one pathology service serving The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust and The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust.
The Black Country Pathology Service is a hub and spoke model with a hub at New Cross Hospital, Wolverhampton, and essential services laboratories (ESLs) at each acute hospital (Russells Hall, Walsall Manor, Midland Metropolitan).
The service, otherwise known as the Target Operating Model (TOM), has been developed with quality for patients and clinicians as its priority. It will provide economies of scale, improve the quality of the current service through sharing of resources and allow standardisation of the service across all sites, eliminating existing variations across services.
The TOM has been developed through an extensive engagement exercise with laboratory managers and leads, clinicians and other operational leads to determine the exact clinical requirements for each site and therefore the capability of the ESLs.
It aims to ensure not only that all current standards are as a minimum maintained, but that as the service becomes fully operational other benefits are realised. These will include a 24/7 microbiology service, extended hours for other services and faster turnaround times.
This isn’t going to be set up and operational quickly, this will happen in a number of stages with the first stage being the TUPE transfer of staff from The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust and Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust to The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust by October 2018. The final ‘steady state’ stage is aimed for April 2020.
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