A new state-of-the-art pathology laboratory to serve Leeds, West Yorkshire and Harrogate has been given the final go ahead by the Department of Health and Social Care.
The facility, at St James’s Hospital, Leeds, will support hospitals across the region to improve diagnostics for patients and help to meet the growing regional demand for specialist treatment and care – as well as providing development opportunities for staff.
The approval of the Trust’s Full Business Case means construction of the new pathology laboratory will begin on site this March. The new building, expected to be operational in the autumn of 2023, is also part of the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Pathology Network, formed through the collaboration of the West Yorkshire Association of Acute Trusts (WYAAT), and will support the plan to consolidate services across the region.
The decision by the Department is also a boost for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust’s wider health improvement plan to take a huge leap forward in the delivery of care for patients from Leeds, the wider region and beyond.
Those plans include the development of a new adults’ hospital and new home for Leeds Children’s Hospital – and centralising maternity and neonatal services – on the Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) site as well as supporting an Innovation District for the city making use of surplus estate.
The new laboratory will allow the Trust to incorporate most of those pathology services currently housed in outdated facilities in the Old Medical School at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) as well as some of those delivered from St James’s University Hospital.
Simon Worthington, the Trust’s Director of Finance and Senior Responsible Officer for the Building the Leeds Way project, said the decision was a real commitment by the Government to the Trust’s plans for revitalising healthcare in Yorkshire.
“This announcement is a huge boost for our plans to take healthcare to the next level in Leeds and the wider region, not just with the new pathology laboratory but also the development of a new adults’ hospital and new home for Leeds Children’s Hospital on the Leeds General Infirmary site,” he said.
“Our pathology teams have done a magnificent job during the Covid pandemic, despite working in outdated facilities, and have been delivering huge numbers of daily test results for the region’s hospitals. The new laboratory will enable them to work with new state-of-the-art equipment and buildings.”
Dame Linda Pollard, chair of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, welcomed the approval of the Full Business Case and said it heralded exciting times for healthcare in the Yorkshire region. “The Government decision on the new pathology laboratory shows how committed they are to our exciting plans for taking healthcare to the next level in Leeds, the Yorkshire region and beyond.
“Our development of two new hospitals and a new innovation district for the city is the catalyst for wider regeneration of Leeds city centre with the innovation district bringing new investment and jobs.”
Among those expected to benefit when the new facility is completed is Advanced Biomedical Scientists, Fiona Babbington and Andy Smith, who currently work in blood sciences in the Old Medical School building.
Fiona, who has been working for the Trust since 2002, said: “The new laboratory will give us a purpose-built more functional base which will be better for pathology services, staff and patients. I am looking forward to working in a modern environment with new technology without all the challenges we currently face in the outdated Old Medical School building.”
Andy, who has been with the Trust since 2016, is looking forward to working in the new facility. He said: “Having a new building means we have a blank canvas to shape from the ground up. It will be a great opportunity to introduce new technology, building more resilience into the service and enable future-proofing. The new build will also be a more comfortable and pleasant environment to work in, putting the Trust at the leading edge of innovation as well as improving services for patients.”
The Trust aims to develop a world-class pathology building that is flexible, digital by design and supports the net zero carbon target. It will aim to be fully mechanically ventilated with heat recovery and systems to minimise power and re-use heat.
It will also incorporate a single, shared Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) for the area which will mean test requests can be ordered, tracked and results reported electronically to clinical services across West Yorkshire and Harrogate.
Leeds-based BAM Construction were announced last June as the preferred developers for the laboratory and are expected to begin work sometime in March.