Dr Julian Berlet, Divisional Medical Director at the WAHT, said: “It is true to say that two staff have decided to leave their posts in the Histopathology team in Worcestershire, this is something that happens to all employers and the NHS isn’t immune to such changes.
“As a result we have been discussing the histopathology services. The majority of our pathology services are already based on our Worcester site and we will are now centralising the remainder of the service.
“This fits with the recommendations of the Carter review and is supported by the UK accreditation service.
“The Trust will now recruit to one central team, continuing to provide a comprehensive services to patients throughout Worcestershire. The aim is for the service to improve and patients will not experience delays as a result of these changes.”
The majority of our pathology services have now been centralised on to one site at Worcestershire Royal Hospital. Centralisation of pathology services including histopathology is something that very much fits with the recommendations of the Carter Review which looks at making best use of resources by operating at scale.
The first phase of histopathology centralisation on to the Worcester Royal Hospital site took place in June 2015 and we are now working to accommodate all consultant staff so the whole team can work and be located together. This strategy, which has been adopted by many trusts across the country, has also been supported by the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS), the sole national accreditation body for the United Kingdom.
In terms of resignations, three consultant histopathologists have given their notice to leave the Trust, reducing the countywide complement from 8 wte to 5 Wte, albeit one colleague will continue to undertake coroner work in the Trust.
We are confident that we will be able to fill the vacancies through having one centralised team and this process has already commenced. In the meantime, we will continue to provide a high quality service to all of our sites from our existing team, supplemented by outsourcing some of our work.
A proportion of histology specimens are already reported remotely via an external provider and whilst this is a more expensive solution than the work being done in-house; with the national shortage of Pathologists this model is now widely used across the country. Please be assured that we only use this option for samples in which the results are clinically considered not time critical.
In terms of impact on frontline services at the Alexandra Hospital, we do not believe that these changes are significant. For example, our surgeons are able to access results electronically and this system is already in place, even when the tests were carried out at the Alexandra Hospital.