One firm sought for Essex pathology services

A move towards having one organisation delivering pathology services across a large swathe of Essex could lead to huge problems, a councillor has warned.

The Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust wants to streamline the service across the region and is looking for bidders for a contract to run all pathology services.

The trust currently has differing models of pathology service provision across our hospitals, including Basildon-based Pathology First, a commercial joint venture between the trust and Synlab. It carries out a range of pathology tests including blood samples and cervical smear tests.

The proposal was presented to councillors at Thurrock’s health and wellbeing overview and scrutiny committee meeting on Thursday.

Shane Ralph, Conservative councillor for Stanford East and Corringham Town, said “There is one question that jumps out at me. Now we are going to put all our tests in one basket, in one location, if there is an issue at that one lab that’s going to have a massive knock on effect to all the blood tests in Essex. Are we not really narrowing down our choice?”

Cllr Ralph was told once an organisation had been chosen to deliver the service, locations for labs would be decided.

Basildon-based Pathology First, is a commercial joint venture between the trust and Synlab. range of pathology testss including blood samples and cervical smear tests. It has a contract ntil late 2024.

The bidding process is set to start in the summer.

Pathology First declined to say whether it would be one of the bidders.

Jill Elliott, general manager at Pathology First, said: “Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust has entered a period of engagement with stakeholders regarding future pathology service arrangements. The aim is to work towards a single integrated pathology service model in line with national policy. Our focus remains on continuing to provide the high-quality pathology service that our clinicians and patients expect and deserve.

“Since 2014 we have invested substantially in the operations to improve the service for our patients and staff. We are very proud of our extensive team and everything they do on a daily basis to support what is an essential service for patient care, whether they are working in the laboratories, in the community or on the wards.”

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter