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Your spotlight on local services

NHS privatisation concerns after London public-private path lab errors revealed

31/05/2017

Hackney NHS campaigners have warned about the perils of private sector involvement in Homerton’s pathology lab after errors emerged at a public-private north London laboratory serving a number of NHS hospital.

Problems reported at the Health Services Laboratories (HSL) facility included mislabelled blood samples and samples ‘staying on the bench for a number of hours’ before processing, the Health Service Journal reported.

HSL is joint venture between Australian firm The Doctors’ Laboratory, University College London Hospitals Foundation Trust and Royal Free London Foundation Trust.

The facility provides path lab services to its partner trusts, Middlesex University Hospital Trust and to NHS sexual health services in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Peterborough and Suffolk.

HSL is chaired by Lord Carter who headed two government reviews into the efficiency of pathology services. Last year HSL reported profits of £8.4m on a turnover of £95.7m.

Under pressure from the North East London Sustainability and Transformation Plan team, Homerton Hospital is proposing radical changes to Homerton Hospital pathology lab services.

Homerton Hospital chiefs have recommended Hackney's path lab services should be delivered ‘in collaboration’ with unspecified partners with some services remaining at the hospital.

Hackney residents who joined a Healthwatch Hackney public meeting last yearon the Homerton Hospital path lab were clear the local pathology services should not be privatised.

Errors at HSL were highlighted in a report to North Middlesex University Hospital released under a Freedom of Information request which also showed HSL had calculated the turnaround time from the time the test started rather than when the sample is booked into the laboratory.

The report made clear no patient received the wrong blood as a result of the errors and a robust improvement plan was now in place.

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