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My lab: on a rapid path of improvement

Debra Padgett, Pathology Quality Manager at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, gives a guided tour of her labs.


North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust is at a truly exciting time of transformation. Through our trust strategy we will achieve the delivery of safe, accessible, high quality and sustainable healthcare services in north Cumbria for the next generation.

The trust runs two district general hospitals, in Carlisle and Whitehaven, providing acute care to a population of approximately 350,000 people and employing over 4,500 members of staff. 

The trust has had to rise to a number of challenges in recent years and is now on a rapid path of improvement. We are committed to the long-term development of a culture of continuous improvement to respond to changes in healthcare need and demand. 

Our new state-of-the-art hospital has opened in Whitehaven, representing the single biggest investment in healthcare in west Cumbria for over 50 years. This is a really important milestone for our organisation, which will allow us to further expand our range of local services as we continue to improve safety and quality.

The trust provides a range of general acute hospital services and we are currently working with commissioners to help develop a comprehensive service for the whole of Cumbria, which will work cooperatively with other LOCAL providers.

The Blood, Cell and Infection Sciences departments that make up the Pathology Directorate are well equipped and are all ISO 15189 accredited. Our 240 staff manage a diagnostic workload of approximately 5.5 million requests per annum, serving the two major acute hospitals and the community hospitals in the area across two laboratory sites. We use Telepath LIMS with ICE electronic requesting and reporting and a Q-Pulse quality management system. We were also the first NHS pathology department to utilise iPads as an integral part of our quality management system, for both auditing and document management.

The Infection Sciences Department tests a wide range of patient specimens to detect the presence of pathogenic bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi. Infection Sciences also host our immunology diagnostic service, which aims to provide its users with a comprehensive repertoire of tests for autoimmunity, immunodeficiency, rheumatic diseases and allergy in-house. 

The Blood Sciences Department offers a wide range of in-house assays, performing over 4.5 million tests every year. Our two-site approach means that 
if one of our analysers was to fail, specimens can be transported to the 
west coast and investigated overnight.

Our Cell Sciences laboratories cover routine histopathology, non-gynae cytology, andrology and mortuary services centralised on the Cumberland Infirmary site.

To better aid our diverse population and address our geographical challenges we have an extensive point-of-care repertoire managed through laboratory services, ranging from blood glucose monitoring and fetal fibronectin testing, to our brand new connected ketone devices.

It is an honour and a pleasure to be part of this dedicated team of professionals and we look forward to embracing this exciting time of change and development for the trust by delivering the best possible pathology service to aid in exceptional patient care.   

  • Debra will be speaking about quality management at the IBMS Congress.  

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