UK-based consumer and business analyst MindMetre has released a new report highlighting return-on-investment from pathology services in the National Health Service (NHS) and advocating against consolidation of pathology laboratories.
The report was carried out in response to NHS pathology review panel chairman Patrick Robert Carter’s latest report titled: 'Operational productivity and performance in English NHS acute hospitals: Unwarranted variations'.
Taking into account views of 30 laboratory managers and principal biochemists in England and Wales, the review suggested that the immediate effects of pathology service capacity and its productivity are more considerable than service funding would suggest.
It further stated that current pathology services have the potential to result in positive patient outcomes, rapid diagnosis and elimination of unnecessary interventions and chronic condition development in the future.
The Carter report stated: “If benchmarks for pathology are unlikely to be achieved (by the deadline of April 2017), trusts should have agreed plans for consolidation and outsourcing to other providers by January 2017.”
The latest report countered the imposition of strict timelines, stating that consolidations are unsuitable for within-laboratory efficiency and improvement drives.
The MindMetre review advocated a mandatory pathway for laboratory productivity improvement, while considering the NHS fundamental of delivering efficiency savings in the current policy environment.
It also suggested the re-appraisal of high value offered by pathology services to adjudge their position in the NHS service funding priorities.
Mind Metre managing director Paul Lindsell said: “A knee-jerk push to consolidate pathology labs is not an easy universal panacea. There is evidently significant headroom for efficiency and productivity gains in pathology workflows and emerging technology.
“Our report recognises frustrations that greater productivity gains have not yet been achieved.
“However, we also suggest that the through-the-line benefits pathology services offer mean it would be a mistake to potentially squeeze such resources in the NHS. In fact, there may be a rationale to put greater resources into pathology services, so long as they are strictly pegged to productivity improvements.”