Today on the launch of the NHS workforce plan marking our National Health Service’s 75th birthday, it was great to be at Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital meeting president of the The Royal College of Pathologists Professor Mike Osborn and the dedicated team working within Path Links, the most advanced pathology network in the UK.
Representing a partnership between ULHT and NLAG trusts with sites at Boston Grantham and Lincoln plus Scunthorpe and Grimsby, the network has its own IT system and crucially its own transport so samples can be moved across our large rural county as required. Serving 186 GP practices a network of vans and blood bike volunteers ensure samples get to where they need to be quickly and efficiently. The team are working hard on sustainability with an innovative new water purification system saving 1.8 million litres a year for Boston alone.
Path Links are already working on the workforce plan’s three central planks – train, retain, reform. There’s been practical recognition of the need to recruit and train with apprenticeships including completion of a BSc Biomedical science degree with Nottingham Trent University and links with Lincolnshire’s medical school at Lincoln university. The Cellular pathology service deals with over 65,000 samples a year with core cancer specialities. Genomic testing for solid tumours that was historically outsourced to Birmingham is now, using new technology, partially back in Lincolnshire. This has delivered a turnaround rate six times quicker. Digitising pathology has helped to improve flexibility for pathologists to access slides, meaning greater staff retention. And on the technology front, whilst we are perhaps 5-7 years away from AI looking at an image and helping diagnose, AI helping for example in optimising rotas will be much quicker.