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Lord Carter praises Black Country Pathology Service as 'world class'

Lord Carter praises Black Country Pathology Service as ‘world class’

Date of release: 10 November 2021

Lord Patrick Carter has described the Black Country Pathology Service (BCPS) as a ‘world class’ service after proud staff showcased its cutting edge innovations.

The BCPS is a pathology network for four organisations – Sandwell and Birmingham NHS Trust, The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, and Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, based on all hospital sites.

Latest News: Lord Carter praises Black Country Pathology Service as ‘world class’

Promoting National Pathology Week, Lord Carter visited the BCPS, which was created in 2018 in response to his 2008 report which recommended NHS laboratory services be re-organised into a regional ‘hub and spoke’ model to improve quality and efficiency. 

Lord Carter, chairman of the review panel examining the future of NHS pathology, is regarded as one of the most influential people in the NHS.

Latest figures show the BCPS scored 92 per cent compliance on a dashboard provided by NHS Improvement, ranking it one of the best performing services in the country .

Lord Carter was shown innovations such as pre bar coded tubes for laboratory samples which can be scanned into the IT system rather than be printed off, and full automation of the microbiology lab service where growing bacteria can be assessed digitally rather than on agar plates.

In addition, the laboratory information  system will connect to all four trusts  electronic patient records for receiving requests and sending out results, while the BCPS boasts a full procurement programme for equipment that is realising savings beyond what Lord Carter recommended in his report.

“There is no better example of services coming together at this level than the four trusts here. The high quality and efficiency of it is tremendous,” said Lord Carter.

“Deploying technology is the only way forward and from looking at what’s taking place in pathology here, this is world class.

“I see more use of technology, particularly artificial intelligence (AI) in helping diagnose cases more quickly, allowing clinicians to use their time a lot more productively, certainly in terms of rapid diagnostics.

“If you look at two key diagnostic tools – radiology and pathology – this Trust is incredibly well equipped. And if we get the diagnosis right, the patient flow through the hospital is so much better.

“It’s wonderful to see. Trusts in other parts of the country have done it, but very few have done it as well as this. It really does show the NHS can do great things.

During his visit, Lord Carter, a Labour peer, said he felt a great sense of leadership and pride from the staff in their work.

“There is a great feeling of pride; I think yesterday they did something in the region of 2,000 COVID-19 tests,” he added. “Two years ago, we weren’t running any tests.

“There is also great leadership in the Pathology service, with Branko Perunovic (Chief Medical Officer, BCPS) and Graham Danks (Operational Manager). They are looking for the best way to serve patients, and it’s an excellent building.

“From being with the people I’ve met, everyone has got pride in the place. It’s not excessive or misplaced, but a pride built on achievement.”

Lord Carter has previously praised The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust for its innovation, notably when it became the first in the UK to use SafeHands, a programme which saw monitoring devices fitted to patients and staff.

He believes it is one of the leading trusts in the country. “It’s one of the best run organisations  in England,” said Lord Carter. “What distinguishes it is it’s a centre for excellence that people want to come to work at and one people want to be treated in, and those things go hand in hand.

“If you get great people who are allowed to innovate or practise medicine, anybody walking into the hospital can see it’s well run and well maintained. It’s that sense of the factors that make a great hospital.”

Lord Carter also praised the Trust’s leadership. Prof. David Loughton CBE has been Chief Executive since 2004, overseeing many improvements within the organisation.

“It’s a very big organisation now – the turnover exceeds £1 billion and there are 11,000 staff, so it’s a major undertaking which requires leadership and management at all levels,” said Lord Carter.

“That’s what David Loughton has brought to it – the ability to attract good people and keep them. To command a big Trust like this, you have to give up some control, because you can’t do it all yourself and I think that’s an important distinction.

“What David has done is actually give control to the people doing it while at the same time maintaining that overall control.”

Lord Carter was also shown around the Trust’s £9 million solar farm project, near to New Cross Hospital, where the first sod was cut on Thursday, November 4th. The ambitious scheme aims to provide enough green energy to power the entire site for over 280 days a year and the peer sees this as another way the Trust is a trailblazer.

“Across healthcare there is a lot of talk about the environment and integration, but another thing that distinguishes Wolverhampton is it get things done,” he added. 

“David is a skilful doer. Whether it’s building a new lab or building a solar farm, the agility with which he responds to the demands and changes forced upon it sets them apart.

“The solar farm is one more leading edge innovation, and, as usual, the key message nationally, is to get people to follow Wolverhampton’s example.”

A Teaching Trust of the University of Birmingham