GPs voice their concerns over pathology move

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CONCERNS have been raised about proposals to outsource some pathology services to regional centres as part of the sweeping changes coming in to the NHS.

Suffolk GPs are worried at the impact of sending pathology work, currently done at district hospitals such as West Suffolk Hospital, to regional labs at Norwich and Cambridge.

A review of pathology has been carried out nationally and proposes a new model for services in England. PCTs GPs, pathologists, lab managers and trade unions in the East of England are currently looking at ways to implement these.

The British Medical Association, which represents doctors, says that current practice means there is good local relationships between the pathology departments and GPs as well as consultant expertise from haematologists, oncologists and biomedical scientists at local hospitals.

Dr Janet Massey, Suffolk BMA representative, said: “There is a whole group of people who need to be near at hand and available,

“The problem is if routine work is taken away the income isn’t available to continue to fund these extremely reliable consultants.”

Dr Simon Rudland, a GP at StowHealth, in Stowmarket, said that currently tests could be sent away and results made available to GPs on the same day.

He said: “Access to quality diagnostics is really important to improving care.”

“We have a fantastic relationship with chemical specialists and haematologists. We know them and they know our patients and they are at the end of a phone. There is a good team of advice which can help prevent uncecessary and costly admissions or ensure life saving admissions which is vital.”

“Many GPs may not be fully aware of the implications of these changes and it is right that the BMA highlights it.

Without these individuals in hospitals other internal services are degraded. We have local district hospitals which give good quality service and we need a range of services in that hospital. All this needs to be thought through.”

A spokeswoman for NHS East of England said: “At this early stage there are no further details on how the review will specifically affect individual pathology units.”