The importance and impact of improving laboratory test turnaround time in the acute care sector

MindMetre | Published online: 20 September 2016

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Management summary 

  • Pathology services are under pressure to improve performance following Lord Carter’s latest report, Operational productivity and performance in English NHS acute hospitals: Unwarranted variations (February 2016)
  • The Review sets timelines for productivity improvements and encourages trusts to consider laboratory mergers and consolidation
  • This paper presents evidence of the contribution to overall healthcare effectiveness made by pathology, including a qualitative study of laboratory managers and principal biochemists
  • It also raises two critical issues:-
  1.  Given the headroom for technological and procedural reform in pathology (leading to substantial productivity improvements), surely these options should be explored within the existing pathology network before mergers and consolidation are encouraged? Are the deadlines set by the report commensurate with this?
  2. Increasing demand for healthcare, and consequently for pathology services, has not been met by a parallel increase in pathology budgets. Yet, given the disproportionately positive contribution made to improved patient outcomes, and therefore the management of overall healthcare demand, should greater resources not be devoted to pathology services? Should pathology budgets be rising at a higher rate than healthcare demand growth, not a lower one?

Read the full report here

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