Pathologists call for boost to NHS capacity amidst widespread outsourcing

The government’s recent funding announcement aims to expand the diagnostics capacity of the NHS focused on the opening of at least 100 community diagnostic hubs across England, expanding partnerships with the private sector, but will NHS pathology be left out?

The new money was welcomed by the Royal College of Pathologists, however Professor Mike Osborn, President of the Royal College seemed less confident that NHS pathology services would get the share of it they needed.

“It is absolutely crucial however, that pathology services are allocated a portion of the new funding to help further workforce expansion, investment in IT and digital solutions. Without it, it will not be possible to tackle the backlog irrespective of how much is invested in other types of diagnostic centres, such as imaging. Increasing the latter, whilst necessary, will ultimately lead to significant increase in referrals to the already stretched pathology services for additional investigative tests, necessary for patient management.’”

Around 95% of clinical pathways now rely on access to pathology services. The tests are crucial to the early diagnosis of many conditions, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease and rare genetic disorders. Pathology services play a vital role in early detection as an essential part of NHS care, which in turn improves the chances of successful treatment and most importantly, saves lives. Around 1.2 billion pathology tests are carried out in England each year. 

Full story in The Lowdown, 1 December 2021