Scientist in pathology lab

'Enormous' digital pathology update to reduce cancer backlog

NHS patients across the West Midlands are set to benefit from a new digital pathology programme that will help reduce backlog, update services, and make cancer diagnoses more efficient.

Coming in as one of the biggest pathology programmes on the continent, the West Midlands Cancer Alliance initiative will serve almost six million people across four pathology networks, spanning 17 NHS trusts.

By providing pathologists with the digital equipment necessary, the programme will help the West Midlands health sector strengthen collaboration, share insight and expertise, triage urgent cases more effectively, and better manage the growing demand across the region.

The programme has already seen the four pathology networks deploy a Picture Archiving and Communications System (PACS), which allows health professionals to access and analyse diagnostic images with a range of tools, as well as giving them the ability to collaborate in real-time with colleagues – regardless of where they are.

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 the strategic long term service transformation that is already underway to allow NHS services and professionals to work together around the needs of patients.

“Our programme, which uses private cloud, gives us the scalability and flexibility we need. The platform is also based on standards, allowing it to interoperate with other NHS systems and enabling us to take data out of silos, opening new possibilities to inform potentially life-saving research.

“Deploying the platform at this scale will also allow us to leverage AI on an equitable and effective basis – with the ability to trial emerging applications in one location and share learnings regionwide.”

As Mr Williams alludes to, the work constitutes the largest change to the region’s pathology services in over a century, meaning pathologists can ditch the microscopes and glass slides and get accustomed to instant high-resolution digital images that can be viewed anywhere at any time.

Also commenting on the project was Professor Neil Anderson, NHS Midlands regional pathology clinical lead and chief scientist at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust. He 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.”

National Health Executive, Nov/Dec, Cover

NHE Nov/Dec 22

How active travel can help staff save money, improve wellbeing and help meet net zero targets

This issue highlights the latest topics within the health sector, from the NHS outlining its net zero strategy, Virtual hospitals, sustainable healthcare, How the NHS can achieve financial stability and more with articles featuring industry leaders such as Rory Deighton, Acute Network Director for NHS Confederation, Dr Tom Milligan, Clinical Lead for Diabetes in Humber and North Yorkshire, Misha Garcia, Value Programme Lead, NHS Property Services and many more.


View all videos
National Health Executive Presents

National Health Executive Presents

NHE365 Virtual Events

NHE has created a full calendar of events to address the most important issues that influence the delivery of healthcare services. Over 365 days you'll have the opportunity to hear from a range of highly motivating, informative and inspirational speakers. These speakers will equip you with the knowledge and unique insight to enable you to overcome the challenges that you face.

Finger on the Pulse

Ep 14. Health messaging is a science, Professor Craig Jackson

On Episode 14 of NHE's Finger on the Pulse podcast, we're joined by Professor Craig Jackson, Professor of Occupational Health Psychology
Birmingham City University to discuss the coronavirus pandemic, the health messaging around it and how those in power have missed a trick by overlooking the key role of psychology in informing the public of restrictions, measures and the ever-changing situation

More articles...

View all