Trusts involved in a controversial pathology services reconfiguration are to consult staff on the changes later this month, amid union claims that major logistical issues surrounding the project remain unresolved.

It comes as further details have emerged on the proposed arrangements for the East of England.

Seven trusts participating in the Transforming Pathology Partnership joint venture – one of the main planks of the pathology shake-up in the region – will begin consulting over 1,000 lab staff on 16 May, HSJ understands.   

A Unite representative said the union was “very concerned” about job cuts and the “detrimental” impact it would have on services.

She added: “[There are] also concerns around the transportation of urgent work to hubs [to which some pathology will be centralised] and a major obstacle is the IT system.

“There will need to be one system that will connect to all seven trusts. This will take time to sort out.”

A website set up by TPP says the organisation, which will amalgamate services from seven trusts in October, will be one of the UK’s largest pathology providers with an £77m annual turnover and “slightly under 1,000 staff”.

A union document seen by HSJ said the majority of staff will TUPE transfer to the TPP and become employees of Cambridge University Hospitals Foundation Trust which is hosting one of two “hubs” – which are full-service laboratories – under the new arrangements.

Microbiology staff, about 25 per cent of the workforce, will become Health Protection England employees.

Ipswich Hospital Trust will host the second hub while other trusts, which include Colchester Hospital University and West Suffolk foundation trusts and East & North Hertfordshire trust will be “satellites”.

The satellites will do acute hospital work and emergency work and retain a smaller blood sciences department than they have at the moment.

The other trusts involved are Mid Essex Hospital Services and Hinchingbrooke Health Care trusts.

The TPP is part of the east of England pathology reconfiguration, led by the Strategic Projects Team, which was previously part of NHS East of England and is now hosted by the Greater East Midlands Commissioning Support Unit.

The region’s 17 acute trusts all currently host laboratories but they will be reconfigured as “hubs” and “satellites” as part of the first attempt to consolidate pathology services as recommended in Lord Carter’s review.

TPP will go live in October but the new arrangements will not be fully up and running until April 2014, a year later than initially planned.  

Andrew Macpherson, director of strategic projects at the strategic projects team said the team was unable to comment on “internal arrangements for equipment or consultations with staff”.