The Directorate of Pathology provides in-house routine diagnostic services for Blood Sciences, Blood Transfusion and Microbiology, with 24/7 unbroken support for emergency medicine. A routine Cellular Pathology service is provided along with mortuary and post mortem facilities to serve the Trust and the district coroner.

Over recent years, the Pathology departments at  Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust have been working together to strengthen our alliance with the aim of progressing to a fully merged Pathology service. This merger will result in significantly improved services to both our GP and hospital based users.

The following document identifies which tests are performed on each site – Where tests are processed v1.5

Add on Requests:

To request urgent additional tests on Pathology Samples in Biochemistry and Haematology, please request these electronically on ICE where possible. If you are unable to request additional tests on ICE, please use the Add on Requesting Form and hand deliver, scan or electronically complete the request form and send the completed form via email to bdg-tr.barnsleypathologyreception@nhs.net

Blood Sciences Automation Replacement Project Update:

The Blood Sciences services at Barnsley and Rotherham Hospitals are in the process of replacing their main analysers and robotics.  This £3m pound investment in NHS services started last year, but was paused due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. With pandemic pressure on the NHS easing, along with easing of government imposed COVID-19 restrictions, the project is now underway again.

Progress made in July

I am very pleased to report that good progress was made during July, with Rotherham seeing their new Coagulation analysers go live on 14th July and Barnsley went live on their new set of Haematology analysers on 30th July. The teams worked tirelessly to ensure that this process was seemless for our users and patients.

Staff at Rotherham with the new Coagulation analysers:

Some of the Barnsley Haematology team with the new analyers:

Plans for September

During the next major stage of the project in September, we will be going live onto the new Chemistry analysers, which includes new middleware. Now the go live process has been mapped in detail, we know that there will be a short period of electronic downtime to enable the transition to the new analyser systems and middleware. This is planned to happen in the early morning of Monday 21st September for Rotherham and early morning of Wednesday 23rd September for Barnsley. The downtime will be a maximum of 4 hours, which will not prevent urgent samples being processed, but will mean that electronic results are delayed until the new middleware is repointed and tested to ensure it is transmitting correctly. During this brief period, urgent results will be telephoned through to the clinical areas. Routine work, such as GP samples and outpatients are unlikely to be affected as the new systems will be up and running before the daily routine work arrives in the Lab.

The new Coagulation analysers on the Barnsley site are planned to go live in September. Similar to the go live of the Rotherham Coagulation analysers in July, mentioned above, this will be a seemless transition without any impact to our service provision.

Last Phase of the Project

In September to November, we will be replacing the robotics at the Barnsley Blood Sciences Laboratory. This means that the thousands of samples from across Barnsley and Rotherham that are normally delivered to the bank of analysers by the automation each day, will need to be loaded by hand.  BRILS is taking all possible steps to prevent any impact on the services to our users during this period by deploying additional staff. However, this may result in slightly lengthened turnaround times for routine test requests.  Urgent work will be prioritised and we do not anticipate any change to turnaround times for these samples. We aim to maintain a full service for the Hospital, GPs and other healthcare professionals throughout the replacement project.

Our stated turnaround time for routine GP work is 24 hours, but most tests have results within a couple of hours of receipt in the Lab. The likelihood of any impact on user experience from the analyser replacement programme is very low, but slightly lengthened turnaround times are possible. For routine GP samples, we expect this to be in the order of taking 20 minutes longer to process than normal because of the requirement to manually load these onto the analysers. So if a test normally has a result in say 1 hour 30 mins, it may be 1 hour 50 mins whilst we have no track. We have an additional 8 staff members that have been employed to manually transfer samples, so we are confident that the impact will be minimal, even at peak times. GP samples marked urgent will be prioritised, as they are now. The service level has been planned on routine activity levels from GPs and internally, not on the recently reduced activity due to covid, therefore we are confident that we will still be able to deliver timely test results to GPs, even when activity returns to pre-covid levels.

At the end of this project, anticipated to be completed by November 2020, Barnsley and Rotherham Hospitals will have enhanced the service they provide, due to the installation of state of the art analysers and automation, with additional functionality.

If you require any further information or assistance please contact Annette Davis-Green on annettedavis-green@nhs.net or 07825 194 957