Private provider Integrated Pathology Partnerships has picked CliniSys to help deliver a joined up pathology service for two hospital trusts in south Essex.

The Pathology First service was announced in August 2014 to bring together the pathology services of Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

IPP has now confirmed that CliniSys will be its IT partner, developing a central computer database for pathology services using its WinPath Enterprise LIMS technology.

Matthew Fouracre, CliniSys’ customer communications manager, explained that this is the first time the company had used its next generation WinPath Enterprise system to provide an integrated pathology service for this particular provider.

 “This is a chance for two disparate trusts to work together on a specific pathology service without the need knit too much else together,” he added.

The development of larger pathology services that can offer longer hours and more specialised services is a response to recommendations made in Lord Carter’s Independent Review of NHS Pathology, which argued that a shake-up could also save the NHS £500 million per year.

Pathology First is not expected to be fully operational until early 2016, when work on a new central hub laboratory capable of handling high volume automated testing is set to be completed.

The launch of this central hub will allow the partners to split pathology services into routine and non-routine work.

Routine pathology services, such as most tests requested by GPs, will be handled by the hub, while more urgent services, such as inpatient and A&E care, will be carried out by a 24/7 rapid response laboratory located in each trust.

These services will link to the central database, which will allow doctors will be able to keep track of test results for patients that move between Basildon and Southend hospitals for treatment.

CliniSys’ WinPath Enterprise system can also support the work of GPs and commissioners by producing tailored reports on test usage, costs and benchmarks.

Responding to a request from EHI News, Southend and Basildon sent a joint statement about the new model: "The joint venture has enabled us to secure the future of our local pathology services.

“Combining our experience with iPP’s expertise in large scale clinical laboratory operations means that we will be delivering one of the most innovative and efficient pathology services in Britain."

IPP and CliniSys have an existing partnership to deliver a similar integrated pathology service for Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust and Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in Somerset.

Established in 2011-12, Southwest Pathology Services provides a full range of laboratory services for a population of 500,000 people and more than 100 GP practices.

CliniSys’ Fouracre said that the Somerset service is “going very well” and that several lessons will be rolled out to Pathology First.

CliniSys has other integrated pathology partnerships in place including one agreed with Capita in June 2014 to deliver a joined up service covering North Bristol NHS Trust, University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with the Bristol branch of Public Health England, and Weston Area Health NHS Trust.