• Trust picks pathology network partner after rejecting NHS Improvement’s recommendation
  • Move develops links with large trust outside its immediate area
  • Is the second London trust to reject NHSI suggestions on network

A hospital trust has chosen an “NHS option” for its pathology work in the shape of a large provider outside its local area.

Lewisham and Greenwich Trust in south east London revealed in its most recent board papers that it would be developing a pathology network with Barts Health Trust in north east London.

Lewisham and Greenwich Trust has previously rejected an NHS Improvement-backed option of forming a network with its fellow south east London trusts, which involves a part-private provider.

A trust spokesman said a project group had drafted a memorandum of understanding to develop NHS-run pathology services, which would go to both its own board and the Barts board for approval this month.

Lewisham and Greenwich Trust, which has a turnover of around £550m, had also explored networking with trusts in south west London and Sussex, but its board meeting minutes stated: “The trust and Barts [have] now agreed to work together to develop an NHS pathology network. This decision had been agreed by the trust board and trust management executive group.”

Lewisham and Greenwich Trust previously rejected an option of forming a network with its fellow south east London trusts when it became clear that an NHS option was not possible locally, but there were viable options to become part of an NHS pathology network outside south east London

The bulk of pathology services in south east London are provided by Viapath, a private firm jointly owned by Serco, King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust and Guy’s and St Thomas’ FT – the latter two of which are also its two largest customers.

The South East London Sustainability and Transformation Partnership has insisted there is no conflict of interest between these trusts as owners of Viapath and their role in the commissioning of the 15-year contract for the area’s pathology services, due to be awarded next year.