COMMERCE: A pathology joint venture between two Essex foundation trusts and a private firm has been given the formal go ahead.

The Competition and Markets Authority has approved a partnership between Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals Foundation Trust and Southend University Hospital Foundation Trust with the private laboratory Integrated Pathology Partnerships, to reconfigure and run pathology services across south Essex.

The CMA opened an investigation into the partnership in July to assess whether it had led to a merger situation, which could substantially reduce completion. The venture could have been prohibited if the CMA deemed this to be case.

In a joint statement, the trusts’ chief executives Clare Panniker and Jacqueline Totterdell said: “This is welcome news in the development of this exciting joint venture which will secure the quality of local pathology services for patients in south Essex – it will be efficient, professional and safe.”

The new service, called Pathology First, will include a major “hub” laboratory, which is due for completion in autumn 2015.

The trusts’ existing laboratories will be refurbished and used as “spokes” for urgent testing.