STRUCTURE: Five hospitals in the East of England could lose a large part of their pathology services under a proposal being considered by the SHA.

This would see the non-urgent (cold) pathology services for seven hospitals delivered from just two - Addenbrooke’s and Ipswich.

The other five sites - Colchester, Mid-Essex, West Suffolk, Hinchingbrooke and East Herts - would provide urgent pathology services but would send non-urgent samples (including those for GPs) to the two sites.

The proposal has been put forward by the seven hospitals after East of England SHA asked for services for GPs to be centralised to reduce cost and provide a higher specification.

The hospitals decided that removing the GP service would make their individual services unviable and decided further centralisation was needed. Originally, a single hot site was considered but producing proposals for this was difficult in the time frame.

A report to Colchester Hospital University Foundation Trust board said: “The consortium…is preparing bids to the SHA who has required bids to cover 10 variations of possible geographic coverage. Other NHS consortiums will be bidding for parts of the geography covered by our consortium.”

The SHA intends to conclude its evaluate by early March.

“Until that time there remains immense uncertainty for the future shape of pathology in the trust,” it concluded. “This is a major issue for our staff…..there is little definitive information that we can give them regarding their individual futures.”