STRUCTURE: Community pathology services across the Midlands could undergo a major reorganisation, the publication of a £300m tender document has revealed.

NHS Midlands and East is looking to contract out community pathology services across the West and East Midlands.

The contract will be open to NHS and private providers, with the procurement process taking place in the second quarter of 2012-13. The contract is expected to run for five years, with a total value of £300m and an anticipated start date of April 2013.

A call for feedback from interested parties closed on 30 April. An outline business case needs to be approved before the proposals can take effect.

The project is being driven by the Review of Pathology Services, published in 2008 by Lord Carter of Coles. He recommended pathology services were consolidated into networks to drive performance improvements and deliver significant cost savings.

Potential providers can bid for one, some or all of the four lots of Lincolnshire, the East Midlands excluding Lincolnshire, Birmingham and the Black Country, and the West Midlands, excluding Birmingham and the Black Country.

Services affected include analysis and blood tests for GPs, community and domiciliary blood services, an electronic test ordering system with rapid results, and development of care pathways to ensure appropriate use of diagnostics.

The changes to community pathology services could also benefit acute providers.

The feedback document produced by NHS Midlands and East said: “The recommissioning of community pathology also indirectly promotes acute pathology restructuring. Accordingly the development of pathology networks that share efficiency gains and lower overall costs are an anticipated outcome of the project for community pathology services in the East and West Midlands.”