• Harrogate and District FT to enter joint venture comprising two other FTs
  • Move will help “share skills and expertise, increase efficiency and standardise processes”
  • Comes as six hospital trusts in West Yorkshire and Harrogate develop network approach to pathology services

An NHS foundation trust in north Yorkshire is participating in a pathology joint venture as part of a new networking approach.

Harrogate and District Foundation Trust will join Integrated Pathology Solutions, comprising Airedale FT and Bradford Teaching Hospitals FT, on 1 October.

Incorporated in 2016, the enterprise delivers diagnostic and consultative services to patients of both trusts, as well as locally to primary and secondary care providers.

Robert Harrison, HDFT’s chief operating officer, said the move will enable the trust to share skills and expertise, increase efficiency and standardise processes.

He added: “Working as part of a larger entity will enable us to get better value for money when procuring new equipment and support investment in new technology so that we can continue to deliver high-quality services to our patients.

“This approach was fully supported by the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Pathology Programme Board, which is overseeing the development of the regional network on behalf of all six trusts.”

It comes as the six hospital trusts in West Yorkshire and Harrogate agreed to develop a network approach to pathology services following a national directive from NHS Improvement in 2017. This also includes the IPS joint venture which HDFT is joining this October.

Martin Barkley, senior responsible officer for the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Pathology Programme, said: “This is building on the work we were already doing as a region, including the successful funding bid to support the roll-out of digital pathology across all six trusts.

“We are also planning to procure a single laboratory information management system for use by all trusts, which is essential to enable us to work together as a network, and the funding we have just been awarded for this as a region will be a big step forward to achieving this.

“We are currently working collectively to determine the best model for delivering services as a network.

“This is likely to mean concentrating some testing into ‘hubs’, but each trust will retain on-site the testing necessary to support acute care and sufficient volume to deliver an efficient service.”

Mr Barkley, who is also chief executive of the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust, added recommendations are being developed to take to trust boards and NHSI later this year.

Earlier this month, it was announced the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership would have £12m to establish a single, shared laboratory information management system for the region.

It would mean test requests can be ordered and tracked, and results reported electronically, to clinical services across the area. Meanwhile, duplications in test requests would be cut down as standardisation is introduced.

It followed on from Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust being awarded £10.1m in NHS funding to expand digital pathology and AI programming in West Yorkshire and Harrogate.