Health services face merger in NHS switch

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A shake-up of health services is likely to see a new pathology unit - serving much of Surrey, Mid Sussex, Horsham and Crawley - opening in Haywards Heath.

It is part of cash-saving proposals outlined in the nationwide ‘sustainability and transformation plan’ for the NHS.

If it goes ahead, it will mean the closure of a current path lab at Crawley Hospital and pathology services - essential for the diagnosis of diseases and illnesses - merged at a new unit at the Princess Royal Hospital, Haywards Heath.

According to a report from a group known as Monitor, part of NHS Improvement, merging the services will offer financial efficiency through ‘significant economies of scale.’ It says Crawley Hospital would no longer provide pathology services.

A spokesman for Sussex & East Surrey Sustainability & Transformation Partnership said the proposed new unit would improve and speed up how pathology services were carried out and make them ‘more sustainable for the future.’

The Government has earmarked more than £19 million for a new state-of-the-art building and equipment at the Haywards Heath site. Funding will be released subject to business cases being approved by the Department of Health

and Social Care and the Treasury.

The spokesman for the Transformation Partnership said: “The proposal makes it possible to centralise microbiology and other specialties from Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust and Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, who have been working together to provide pathology services on different sites.

“It will also enable the purchase of a new information management system that connects services between different healthcare sites.”

Clinical director Dr Bruce Stewart said: “By being located in one place rather than atdifferent sites, our services will be able to work in a more modern and stream-lined way, which will improve the throughput and quality of the services we provide.

“It will enable our Trusts to concentrate and attract pathology expertise locally, and to develop specialised testing that is currently sent out of area.

“All of this puts us in a better position to bring real benefits for our patients, service users and staff within existing resources.”