A PARTNERSHIP between Southend and Basildon Hospitals to deliver pathology services in south Essex has been given the go ahead.

The hospitals confirmed earlier this year that they were teaming up with private laboratory Integrated Pathology Partnerships (iPP) in a joint venture that will ensure the future of the service.

The move followed a succesful Echo-backed campaign to prevent plans to move routine blood testing for south Essex patients 88 miles away to Bedford.

It means routine pathology services such as blood testing will remain local to both trusts, ensuring a quick and efficient service for patients who need tests to establish the nature of their illness.

The collaboration will also enable investment in new state-of-the-art equipment and processes, improving quality for patients.

The new service called Pathology First, will separate routine and non-routine work. This will be achieved by building a central hub laboratory to process and report routine work, for example most tests requested by GPs and from outpatient clinics.

It will be enhanced by two 24/7 rapid response laboratories, one on each hospital site, to cover urgent tests for patients in A&E and inpatient wards.

In a joint statement Clare Panniker, Basildon Hospital chief executive, and Jacqueline Totterdell, chief executive of Sourthend Hospital, said: “This is welcome news in the development of this exciting joint venture which will secure the quality of local pathology services for patients in south Essex – it will be efficient, professional and safe.

“But it also represents a good deal for the NHS, utilising iPP’s experience in large scale clinical laboratory operations. They will bring new experience and expertise and can add value in other ways including enhanced buying power, innovation and economies of scale.”

Pathology services at both NHS trusts will continue as they currently are whilst the new ‘hub’ laboratory is built.

Basildon Council has agreed a planning application for the laboratory at Dobson House, in Bentalls, Basildon.