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My Lab: A multi-disciplinary laboratory

Lynnette Garrett, Laboratory Medicine Quality Manager, gives a guided tour of the services at Swansea Bay University Health Board.

The Swansea Bay University Health Board (SBUHB) laboratory medicine team provides services for the Swansea and Neath Port Talbot areas in South Wales. The health board serves a population of around 390,000 and employs approximately 12,500 staff.

The laboratory medicine service provides a multi-disciplinary clinical laboratory service across four hospital sites and includes the disciplines of clinical chemistry, laboratory haematology, blood transfusion, cellular haematology, serum protein analysis, immunology, POCT and toxicology. We also manage four sample reception areas, the phlebotomy service and a cross-site courier service.

The service includes a main hub site and two satellite laboratories, with all three laboratories providing a 24-hour service and offering regional testing for some specialist tests.

Each hospital site has its own clinical specialties, including emergency medicine, cancer services, maternity, regional renal centre, regional cardiac centre and regional burns and plastic centre. Our staff experience the varied requirements that go hand-in-hand with each of these specialties.

In recent years we’ve been very successful in getting staff through the registration portfolios, as well as staff completing MScs, leadership qualifications and professional doctorates. We also have placement students from Cardiff Metropolitan University’s healthcare science course.

Our lab has a real focus on quality, with our services being accredited to ISO 15189 and plans well under way for ISO 22870 accreditation for our POCT service.

An article describing a laboratory service at this time would not be complete without discussing COVID-19 testing. The laboratory is now testing COVID-19 antibodies, with a peak testing of 2000 requests a day. This put us under pressure, but we adapted to turn around the samples quickly as well as maintaining our normal work turnaround times.

SBUHB pathology has received several nominations in the 2020 AHA ESTEEM awards, including for our work supporting the health board’s field hospitals, phlebotomy and POCT during the pandemic. In recent years we’ve also won local chairman’s awards for our research and development team.

Our laboratory service continues to thrive, driven by quality and innovation, to meet the need of our users.   

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