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Black Country Pathology Service


Creating an integrated platform to deliver better more effective and efficient medical services

Pathology services are struggling to serve growing, aging populations who increasingly have complex co-morbid diseases. With 90 per cent of all clinical pathways requiring pathology services, they’re critical to our healthcare system. Serving 1.4 million patients across the Black Country region, the Black Country Pathology Services (BCPS) needed to completely redesign its IT service platform to operate effectively and efficiently. We helped BCPS create a scalable platform with new workflows that will leverage staff skillsets, provide more flexible services and deliver faster laboratory results.


Key successes

  • complex technology

    designed and managed the delivery of an integrated and scalable IT infrastructure

  • people

    harmonised workflows and systems for staff to support the reconfiguration of services across five laboratories

  • lightbulb

    implemented a new pathology platform to deliver the foundation of the BCPS service

Consolidating pathology services

Pathology services are critical to delivering quality healthcare. Without pathology, it wouldn’t be possible to diagnose cancer, cardiac and heart problems, and infectious diseases. With 90 per cent of all clinical pathways requiring pathology services, demand is growing as our population ages and the number of patients with multiple co-morbidities increases.

The Black Country Pathology Service (BCPS) was formed as a result of the Lord Carter review of Pathology services across England which identified the need for significant reductions in over testing, improved resilience and reduced costs. BCPS consolidates the staff, services and IT platforms of four different trusts – Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals National Health Service (NHS) Trust, The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust and Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust – to improve the quality of pathology for the Black Country region.

Serving 1.4 million people and performing 60 million tests each year, the BCPS needed to completely redesign its IT systems to operate effectively and efficiently. We helped them design and deliver a scalable platform that allowed them to offer integrated services and adopt new technologies to improve flexibility and deliver better laboratory results faster.

Delivering flexible and faster pathology services

As the host of the consolidated pathology service, Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust leaders were concerned about their ability to meet the challenges of delivering such a complex programme within condensed timelines and with multiple dependencies. We helped BCPS create a scalable IT service platform with new workflows that will leverage staff skillsets, provide more flexible services and deliver faster laboratory results.“Healthcare is evolving fast, and the NHS is modernising so that they can benefit from new technology advances,” says Mark Horncastle, PA healthcare expert. “Staff need to be able to use analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve diagnosis and enable precision medicine.”Our team worked closely with BCPS Operations Director, Graham Danks, and the Royal Wolverhampton Chief Technology Officer, Nick Bruce, to implement a new future-proof laboratory information management system (LIMS) that would provide the single pathology platform to deliver the foundation of the BCPS service.“We selected PA for this major change management initiative because we needed an impartial organisation who could manage key stakeholders,” says Nick Bruce. “PA understood our objectives and our technical challenges and helped us align around the path forward. The team is also very knowledgeable about clinical systems and architectures for acute and primary care that are used by the national NHS and regional trusts.”

Creating a service that grows with patient needs

We worked with IT teams at all four trusts to execute the goals of the IT delivery programme. We provided programme management, enterprise architecture and business change management support for several key initiatives, including the procurement, design, build, test and implementation of the new platform. The joint team worked swiftly and were able to deliver the entire project two months ahead of schedule.

"The new platform for BCPS improves our services for both patients and staff. For patients, it enables them to get tested at any site they choose and get faster results. Our staff gain exposure to new technology and processes that can help them develop careers and reduce the time stress most clinicians face in their daily work,” says Graham Danks.

“Scaling technology with staff is critical to ensuring long-term sustainability of healthcare services through the NHS,” says Graeme Hodgson, PA IT implementation expert. “With the new platform in place, BCPS will accelerate processes and enable better clinical decision making.”

1.4 million people

provided with more efficient pathology services

£52 million

of savings will be delivered over 10 years

355,000 tests annually

can now be performed for cervical cancer

“I personally have been extremely pleased and impressed with the quality of work, commitment and pace to which the PA team has operated,” says Nick Bruce. “Centralising our services and IT platform is going to improve care for all the patients we serve.”

As a result of its world-class technology, and flexible service model enabling faster results, the LIMS will help provide early detection for patients, improving their long-term prognoses.

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Contact us

Mark Horncastle

PA healthcare expert

Simon Collier

PA healthcare expert