Northern Care Alliance NHS Trust’s Oldham site has gone live with Sectra’s digital pathology solution, helping to enhance multi-disciplinary team meetings and collaboration.

In total seven laboratories across the Greater Manchester Pathology Network are to move to the enterprise imaging network from Sectra– with the Oldham laboratory following in the footsteps of Stockport NHS Foundation Trust, which was the first to deploy the technology earlier in 2023.

The network has an existing agreement in the region with the medical imaging technology provider, which will see more pathologists and biomedical scientists in Greater Manchester move to high-quality digital images in place of microscopes. Acute trusts in the region are also using the same system to view and analyse radiology imaging.

Amanda Ogden, service manager for the cellular pathology and mortuary service at Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Digital pathology is the biggest thing in decades to happen in our laboratories, and will revolutionise how we work together across former organisational boundaries to deliver services for patients, and how our clinical teams collaborate.

“Digital is at the top of the agenda. There is strong buy-in from our consultants who are excited by the possibilities for enhancing our diagnostics, but also for research and new discoveries. This will support training and improve how we share expertise.

“If we have an interesting case, we will no longer need to package slides and send them through the post. Instead, people across sites will have immediate access to high-quality digital images. Modern ways of working will also help us to retain staff – from people starting their careers to people approaching retirement.”

The use of digital pathology will change the way second opinions are accessed. Where previously, slides would need to be physically sent to specialists in other hospitals, now immediate access is possible regardless of location. In addition, healthcare professionals can share screens and discuss cases collaboratively, learning from specialist expertise for future similar cases.

It will also ensure that slides are readily available when they are needed and free up time usually spent on preparing slide trays for pathologists, so that staff can focus on quality control.

Matthew Goodwin, a biomedical scientist at Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust, added: “Now images of slides will become instantly available at the click of a button to different professionals in different locations.

“It will mean that we can focus more of our time on quality control, ensuring that samples and stains are of the right quality before they go to be reported or discussed by pathology teams.

“It will allow us to collaborate more effectively around an image on a screen, allowing us to more easily and accurately review each other’s work, and to more easily train the next generation of biomedical scientists.”

Northern Care Alliance NHS Trust’s Salford site is next for a technical go-live.