Concerns raised over future of DCH pathology services

Dorset Echo: Concerns raised about the future of pathology services at DCH Concerns raised about the future of pathology services at DCH

HEALTH campaigners say they are concerned pathology services could be moved away from Dorset County Hospital.

The recently formed Dorset Health Campaign say they are concerned a current tendering project for the Dorchester hospital could lead to pathology services being shipped out to a private company with a loss of local jobs.

However, hospital bosses say if the current services at DCH are found to be the best the service will stay at the hospital and that whatever happens with the process, essential pathology services will remain on site.

A report to Dorset County Council’s Dorset Health Scrutiny Committee on May 23, stated that the aims of the project were: using a tender process, to compare our pathology services against other interested providers to determine if DCH is providing the best value service and use the outcomes to inform a decision on the future provision of the service.

Out of a total of 29 interested parties, four have been selected to go forward to the next stage of procurement- these are a mixture of NHS and private organisations.

The report states: “The existing internally-delivered pathology service has not tendered for this service. The trust has used the pathology staff's expertise to produce specification documents and evaluate supplier responses.

“This precludes them from bidding themselves. The internal service will be benchmarked against the service specification and costs.

“The internal service will then be compared against the best potential supplier from the tender process. This will inform the final decision.”

Hospital bosses said that no decision has yet been made but if there is a new provider of pathology services, staff would be protected under employment law.

The final decision of the future of the pathology service is expected in September.

Cllr Ros Kayes said the group were concerned about the potential loss of highly skilled local jobs and that if DCH lost the service it ‘won’t come back.’ She said the plans were concerning, she said: “Especially because there’s nothing wrong with the Dorchester pathology lab, why do they need to move it? Is it just about cost cutting?”

If urgent samples needed to be couriered away for testing they were concerned patients might not get the results as quickly as currently, Cllr Kayes added.

She said: “Privatisation is rarely the most appropriate answer to providing improved quality of health care in a city - in a rural area the impact can be catastrophic."

A founder member of the group, Sally Cooke, said they had questions about the future quality of the service. She said: “How do we know the public will still get a good, timely, and high quality service if the path lab should go private? And what redress is there if a private provider delivers a poor service? We are concerned about the loss of local employment and skills."

SPEAKING about the process, Jean O’Callaghan, Chief Executive of Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said that nationally there was a move toward centralising pathology services rather than having a full pathology service in every hospital as it was more sustainable for the future and maintains quality.

She said: “Quality standard requirements are much higher now for laboratory services and it is difficult for smaller centres like ours to keep up with these, to invest in the latest equipment and to recruit the necessary staff.

“At the heart of this project is a commitment to ensuring our patients are receiving the very best pathology services and, whatever the outcome of this process is, essential pathology services will remain on site. The hospital could not function otherwise.

“As a publicly funded organisation we have to use our resources in the best way possible. We are using a tender process to compare our pathology services against other interested parties to determine whether we are providing the best value in terms of quality and cost.

“We will use the outcome of the tender process to inform a decision on the future provision of the services. This decision will be made by the Trust Board.”

She added: “One of the options, based on the evaluation, could be to keep our current services. If the project demonstrates that our own in-house services are the best then we will retain those services.

“Our procurement process is open and transparent and our service specification is very detailed. Any provider will have to demonstrate that they can meet our high expectations on quality and turnaround times for test results.

“We appreciate that this is an unsettling time for our pathology staff and we are working closely with them. We are grateful for their patience and help with this project. We hope to be able to make a final decision in September 2014.”

Comments (6)

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9:23pm Mon 2 Jun 14

PossumGoose says...

When all that's left is a building full of admin staff they will finally be happy. Now looks like Yeovil is set to take over Maternity Unit, so path labs going is just another nail in DCH coffin
When all that's left is a building full of admin staff they will finally be happy. Now looks like Yeovil is set to take over Maternity Unit, so path labs going is just another nail in DCH coffin PossumGoose
  • Score: 9

10:31pm Mon 2 Jun 14

JACKC says...

Procurement process is open and transparent.. yeah right. I wouldn't be surprised if by the time Sept comes the loyal staff in pathology have got themselves jobs elsewhere. This is all about cutting costs .... again. This hospital has NO loyalty to it's staff whatsoever. At the end of the day all the workers there are just payroll numbers, regardless of how hard they work. They should try getting rid of the useless line managers who are constantly being pushed up the ladder, in charge of workers who know more than them, who are forever trying to justify their roles, and save themselves thousands each year, instead of cutting crucial departments.
Procurement process is open and transparent.. yeah right. I wouldn't be surprised if by the time Sept comes the loyal staff in pathology have got themselves jobs elsewhere. This is all about cutting costs .... again. This hospital has NO loyalty to it's staff whatsoever. At the end of the day all the workers there are just payroll numbers, regardless of how hard they work. They should try getting rid of the useless line managers who are constantly being pushed up the ladder, in charge of workers who know more than them, who are forever trying to justify their roles, and save themselves thousands each year, instead of cutting crucial departments. JACKC
  • Score: 19

8:18am Tue 3 Jun 14

weymouthfox says...

Miss O'Callaghan led the transfer of pathology services to Serco while Chief Executive at Bedford Hospital in 2010, leaving for Dorchester before the full horror of the implications were discovered. "The takeover of the NHS's biggest pathology laboratories by a consortium led by the multinational Serco was followed by a series of clinical and financial failures and saw London hospitals being forced to lend money to the company" reported The Guardian. Now history is repeating itself as Miss O'Callagan is leaving Dorset County Hospital having set in motion the conroversial move away from inhouse pathology to a new cheaper provider. See www.theguardian.com/
society/2012/sep/30/
pathology-labs-takeo
ver-failures
and www.corporatewatch.o
rg/news/2012/sep/29/
transforming-patholo
gy-serco-way
The major problem at Dorset County Hospital- I used to work there- is the huge number of overpaid directors, managers and hangerson who issue strings of edicts and targets to low paid staff, as a means of justifying their own jobs. The ratio of managers to real workers is quite amazing.
Miss O'Callaghan led the transfer of pathology services to Serco while Chief Executive at Bedford Hospital in 2010, leaving for Dorchester before the full horror of the implications were discovered. "The takeover of the NHS's biggest pathology laboratories by a consortium led by the multinational Serco was followed by a series of clinical and financial failures and saw London hospitals being forced to lend money to the company" reported The Guardian. Now history is repeating itself as Miss O'Callagan is leaving Dorset County Hospital having set in motion the conroversial move away from inhouse pathology to a new cheaper provider. See www.theguardian.com/ society/2012/sep/30/ pathology-labs-takeo ver-failures and www.corporatewatch.o rg/news/2012/sep/29/ transforming-patholo gy-serco-way The major problem at Dorset County Hospital- I used to work there- is the huge number of overpaid directors, managers and hangerson who issue strings of edicts and targets to low paid staff, as a means of justifying their own jobs. The ratio of managers to real workers is quite amazing. weymouthfox
  • Score: 28

9:05am Wed 4 Jun 14

MaidofDorset says...

Is it really viable to send urgent samples by courier to another location, Poole or Bournemouth etc? Dorchester is not a cottage hospital.
Is it really viable to send urgent samples by courier to another location, Poole or Bournemouth etc? Dorchester is not a cottage hospital. MaidofDorset
  • Score: 0

7:47pm Wed 4 Jun 14

dave from dorchester says...

When Ms O' Callaghan says "essential Pathology work will stay with Dorchester Hospital" I wonder what business the NHS has in carrying out inessential work! Perhaps the holders of these multitudinous admin jobs should be put out to tender without the chance to have their name put in the hat?
When Ms O' Callaghan says "essential Pathology work will stay with Dorchester Hospital" I wonder what business the NHS has in carrying out inessential work! Perhaps the holders of these multitudinous admin jobs should be put out to tender without the chance to have their name put in the hat? dave from dorchester
  • Score: 1

9:51pm Wed 11 Jun 14

sooze123 says...

The powers that be don't care about the place at all - they come in - make a name for themselves on the back of hard working staff - and then off they pop to another excessively highly paid job whilst the staff are left high and dry.
Some years ago when the Trust was in 11 million debt - the staff pulled together and helped put it back in the black - now all that is forgotten.
Loyalty only goes one way in DCH - and it's not from the top down !!
The powers that be don't care about the place at all - they come in - make a name for themselves on the back of hard working staff - and then off they pop to another excessively highly paid job whilst the staff are left high and dry. Some years ago when the Trust was in 11 million debt - the staff pulled together and helped put it back in the black - now all that is forgotten. Loyalty only goes one way in DCH - and it's not from the top down !! sooze123
  • Score: 0

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