Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust will be deploying a new laboratory information system for its pathology services to improve clinical practice and patient care.

Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust was formed last October, when Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust completed its merger with The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust to create a single trust.

The deployment of CliniSys’ WinPath Enterprise will support harmonised working practices at the newly formed trust’s laboratories and will help it move towards cloud-first computing. It will mean the pathology team will be able to easier share expertise and resources, while also delivering a swift testing service for GPs, local hospitals and neighbouring Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust.

Chris Sleight, chief officer for the Greater Manchester Pathology Network, said: “This is a significant step in our ambition to introduce standardisation and interoperability across our Greater Manchester Pathology Network.”

He continued: “Having state-of-the-art LIMS systems such as the CliniSys solution now enables us to introduce other cutting-edge diagnostic IT solutions to benefit patients and clinicians such as Digital Pathology.”

Currently, the pathology service at Salford is using a legacy IT system, while the former Pennine Acute Trust is using a legacy IT system from CliniSys that is due to be retired.

Ian Grant, diagnostics & pharmacy (D&P) digital portfolio lead and programme director at the Northern Care Alliance, said: “The catalyst for moving to a single LIMS is to support the single pathology team, ensuring that they can work smarter.

“At the moment, if Salford is short of resource, the teams at the hospital sites previously run under the former Pennine Acute Trust can’t send people to assist, or vice-versa, because they can’t use each other’s LIMS platforms.

“If there is a single LIMS, and harmonised working processes, they will be able to help each other out. That should mean that we can get results out faster, which will improve the service that we can deliver to clinicians and patients.”

The step towards cloud computing will help to make it easier for the new pathology service to work more closely with other local laboratories. The Northern Care Alliance has created a single catalogue of tests and a single data set to capture information about them. It plans to offer this to other trusts, so that clinicians can order the same tests and view the results regardless of where they were carried out.

Richard Craven, CEO of CliniSys said: “We are delighted to be working with the Northern Care Alliance on a single LIMS project that will have a positive impact on pathology services across the group and the wider Greater Manchester area.

“We’re also delighted to be working with an organisation that is taking such a strategic approach to its IT and investing in cloud-first infrastructure. This is an approach that we are sure others will want to emulate, as they look to make a similarly positive impact on clinical satisfaction with IT systems and on patient care.”

The new LIMS system will help the trust and its partners deliver around 30 million tests each year to the local population. The deployment is currently in the early stages of planning, with a view to going live before the end of 2023.

Last month the Northern Care Alliance confirmed it was experiencing “disruption and instability issues” with some of its IT systems, which continued into this month.