Bringing together local pathology services

SASH pathology services join BSPS

Pathology services previously delivered by the Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (SASH) have formally joined the NHS-run Berkshire and Surrey Pathology Services (BSPS) network. The integration is in line with national policy to develop larger pathology service providers. It increases the resilience of local pathology services and means that SASH pathology services are joining a single managed pathology service for the entire Surrey Heartlands ICS with end-to-end IT connectivity across the whole area.

Integrating the two pathology services will also mean:

  • Greater professional training opportunities for staff, based on the Investors in People model and linked to organisational objectives
  • Improved quality standards with an increased pool of consultant expertise across sites
  • Rapid introduction of new technologies and techniques to benefit clinicians and patients – as well as pathology staff who will have access to new techniques and technology more regularly
  • Faster turnaround times, including more collections for GPs (a minimum of two and a maximum of four runs per day) and hourly shuttles between hub sites, providing quicker and more accurate results for patients
  • Enhanced and expanded rapid testing on Acute Trust sites and extensive rapid testing to support diagnostic hubs, NHS Trusts, GPs, community centres and other health service providers
  • Consolidated logistics, including a joined-up dedicated Pathology transport service to transfer specimens safely between laboratories as well as end-to-end IT connectivity that will speed up results
  • The expansion of a larger, more resilient organisation that can ‘do things once’ – from procurement to best practice and investment – for the benefit of all Acute Trusts served by it
  • A single fully integrated pathology service across all partner Trust providers with the most up-to-date IT, which is in direct strategic alignment with its Integrated Care Systems
  • Integration with larger national and regional pathology services including NHS England bowel and cervical cancer screening and PCR testing of COVID-19 swab samples
  • Integrated Clinical Governance and Quality through a larger, joined-up UKAS accredited service
  • Significant economies of scale, reducing costs and reinvesting savings into the NHS, while creating significant opportunities for growth in a changing environment of fewer, larger Pathology networks.

The BSPS pathology network

BSPS is currently one of the largest pathology networks in the country, providing safe, high quality, clinically led diagnostics. The NHS-led pathology network is a joint venture between five NHS Trusts: Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust, Ashford & St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust; and now Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust.

BSPS is already one of the largest pathology networks in England: last year the service delivered more than 50 million tests supported by 1000 WTE staff working across the network. The integration of SASH to form a new and expanded BSPS pathology network offers an exciting opportunity to enhance all of our pathology services, expand the service offering over time and deliver high-quality results using the latest technology. The integration will provide access to industry-leading diagnostic equipment and a wider range of clinical specialities and research opportunities that are available in a larger pathology network.

A phased approach to service integration

Services will be integrated in planned phases, so the current service arrangements will continue for the time being. The phased approach will help us all to continue delivering our business as usual whilst we become acquainted with new technology, systems, sites and ways of working.

  • We expect services to integrate with the BSPS pathology networks as follows:
  • Microbiology, virology and immunology (“Infection & Immunity”) services, beginning in January 2022
  • SASH Blood Sciences work (Chemistry, Haematology and Blood Bank), which will be incorporated into the BSPS Blood Sciences structure in June 2022
  • Cellular Pathology work, which will be integrated in September 2022.

Pathology UKAS accreditation

The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) provides assessment of pathology departments adherence to the quality standards described in ISO 15189.

This involves comprehensive assessment that the department adheres to the ISO 15189 standards. These standards assess the full range of the service provided by the Pathology pre/post-analytical, analytical, quality management system and advisory services provided by BSPS.

The services integrated within the BSPS pathology network are included in our accreditation.

Currently, the services still provided at Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (SASH) are not included in our published schedules of accreditation. We are working with UKAS and the extension to scope applications will be submitted as soon as practically possible.

Users can be assured that the results produced at SASH utilise the same quality processes as the accredited services delivered across the BSPS network.

More information on the integration is available in the following information document Bringing together local pathology services