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Press release – issued 9 December 2022
WVT first hospital in West Midlands to go live with digital pathology technology for quicker patient diagnosis
Wye Valley NHS Trust is the first hospital in the West Midlands to go live with advanced digital pathology technology, to help transform services and improve the speed of cancer diagnosis for patients.
Patients across Herefordshire are now benefitting from the biggest change in pathology technology for a century, which has been launched as part of a multi-million pound NHS initiative to modernise digital pathology in the UK.
Pathologists at Hereford County Hospital have transitioned from solely using microscopes and glass slides, to having instant access to high resolution digital images of patients’ tissue, for more than 20,000 specimens reported a year, speeding up the process for diagnostic results.
Dr Rashmi Rao, Consultant Histopathologist at Wye Valley NHS Trust, said: “This is a significant advance in our diagnostic capability to improve patient outcomes. This technology enables quicker reporting on images from anywhere in the region, as other NHS Trusts go live on a digital platform”.
Delivered in partnership with medical imaging technology provider Sectra, the programme is part of the West Midlands Cancer Alliance initiative across four NHS pathology networks and 17 NHS Trusts, which are preparing to go live with this new technology as a phased approach.
Working on the same platform from Sectra, the 17 NHS Trusts will be able to report on images from anywhere in the region, without the need to package and transport slides across different laboratories.
Professor Neil Anderson, NHS Midlands regional pathology clinical lead and chief scientist at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, said: “This is one of the most significant events in the last century around how our pathologists work and how that could lead to cancer pathway improvement. The earlier you can detect cancer, there is the potential for better outcomes for patients.
“This technology speeds up the process and reporting through the Pathology Departments, but also allows teams to work between hospitals enabling them to report on images from anywhere in the region which will support faster, better cancer diagnosis. Working on the same platform from Sectra, we will be able to more easily share second opinions, without the need to package and transport slides across different laboratories, which can cause substantial delay. And our new digital platform will help us to explore AI to rapidly triage patients.”
Phil Williams, NHS England’s head of digital transformation for the Midlands, said: “The significance and scale of this programme is enormous. Bringing four pathology networks together on one platform allows for mutual support and image sharing throughout a huge geographical area, where there are multiple trauma centres, millions of patients and increasingly in-demand pathology services. The technology we have deployed is an enabler for sharing reporting capacity across the West Midlands – giving us the tools on which we can accelerate strategic long term service transformation that is already underway to allow NHS services and professionals to work together around the needs of patients.”
Left to right: Dr Rashmi Rao, Consultant Histopathologist, and Andrea Johnson Cellular Pathology Manager at Hereford County Hospital with the new digital pathology slide scanner and PAC system.
Notes to Editors WVT:
- Wye Valley NHS Trust is a provider of health services across Herefordshire and beyond. The Trust exists to improve the wellbeing, independence and health of the people we serve.
- By working closely with our partners, we can make good our promise to deliver a quality of care we would want for ourselves, our families and our friends.
- With an estimated annual turnover of around £295 million, we employ around 3,000 staff. We aim to build new relationships between our staff, patients, service users and their carers with the wider community.
For further information please contact:
Fiona Gurney, communications officer, or John Burnett, Communication and Engagement Manager, Wye Valley NHS Trust: 01432 372928