A time capsule that captures the inner workings of a pathology laboratory has been interred within the grounds of the new Centre for Laboratory Medicine at St James’s University Hospital (SJUH).
Featuring items from working laboratories such as test tubes and PPE equipment, pathology staff profiles including one from a current apprentice and a letter from Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust Chief Executive, Professor Phil Wood, the time capsule hopes to provide a glimpse of what pathology is currently like for those who come to open it in 2098.
To mark the recent National Pathology Week, an interment event was held at the newly named Centre for Laboratory Medicine – a new state-of-the-art pathology laboratory that is due to complete construction this month.
Trust Chair, Dame Linda Pollard, Professor Phil Wood and Simon Worthington, Director of Finance and Senior Responsible Officer for the Building the Leeds Way programme were joined by pathology staff to inter the capsule close to the entrance of the new lab where it will remain for 75 years.
Professor Phil Wood said: “Pathology plays a crucial part in the delivery of front-line care, helping us to diagnose and therefore treat diseases and this time capsule is a fantastic opportunity to recognise the service both now and in years to come.
“Pathology has changed considerably during my own time at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust with digital pathology coming to the fore and with the advancements being made to the way we diagnose, treat and care for our patients in the wake of COVID-19.
“As we approach the NHS’ 75th birthday, I’ve no doubt that things will be very different once again when our future pathologists come to open this in 2098.”
Construction has almost completed on the new laboratory with contractors BAM on track to hand the building back to the Trust this month.
The Centre for Laboratory Medicine will be part of the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Pathology Network, formed through the collaboration with the West Yorkshire Association of Acute Trusts (WYAAT) and will support the delivery of pathology services across West Yorkshire with advanced equipment and new technologies to support innovative testing and diagnostics.
Pathology is one of the key projects in Leeds Teaching Hospital’s Building the Leeds Way Programme of capital investment and improvements.
Currently, most of the Trust’s pathology services are delivered from outdated facilities in the Old Medical School at the Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) as well as from St James’s Hospital.
The new building will bring many of these services together into one purpose-built facility and once vacated, the Old Medical School will be repurposed as part of a plan to use surplus estate at the LGI to develop an innovation village which is expected to deliver up to 4,000 new jobs and almost £13bn in net present value.
Bringing these pathology services together into the new building will support the delivery of faster, more accurate routine and specialist testing and will help to drive improvements in diagnosis for patients across the region.
Some pathology services from Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust and Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust will also move into the new facility to enable routine and direct access testing from fewer sites and will create better working environments for staff and more standardised results for patients.
Simon Worthington said: “Our new facility is now one step closer to driving improvements in the way we diagnose patients, not just in Leeds but those living right across West Yorkshire and Harrogate.
“The new pathology service will help to meet the growing regional demand for specialist treatment and care whilst providing development opportunities for staff which will be created through the use of new state-of-the-art facilities and equipment.”
Construction of a new Acute Hospital Laboratory is also underway at the LGI to provide emergency pathology facilities to support clinical services when the main pathology services at the LGI relocate to the new laboratory at St James’s.