STRUCTURE: “Significant progress” has been made towards the development of a single histopathology service for Bristol, following a joint appointment between North Bristol Trust and University Hospital Bristol Foundation Trust.

The two acute trusts decided to work together following an independent inquiry into histopathology services at UHBFT recommended a single service.

The inquiry was sparked after clinicians at NBT raised concerns about the service. While the inquiry concluded services at UHBFT were safe, it was critical of the rivalry between clinicians in histopathology departments at the two trusts.

Dr Robert Pitcher took up his post as new clinical lead for both cellular pathology departments in Bristol at the start of May.

A review of levels of consultant staffing is underway with a view to formulating a workforce plan for the single Bristol service. This work is expected to be completed by the end of August 2011.

In his report to the NBT board, medical director Dr Chris Burton said: “After many years of difficulty both NBT and UHB recognise there is a lot of work to do with individuals in their respective cellular pathology departments to develop a high performing single department. Both organisations are committed to supporting this work.”