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Life is Better With CellNass - Northampton General Hospital

Interview with Jacqueline Smith – Interim Operations Manager for Histopathology – Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust.

At Northampton General Hospital the storage of a large amount of histopathology material, reaching back 25 years, was reaching crisis point – with cabinets placed along the corridor, on different floors and 15 minutes away in another part of the hospital. As space ran out, the only way to create more was to rotate older material once it passed 25 years of age. The situation came to a head when borrowed space elsewhere in the hospital was needed for a different purpose, leaving no option but to look for an alternative, long-term solution for archiving.

Deputy Head of Pathology Mary Pendleton started the process by contacting CellPath, regarding its CellNass service, having heard about its facilities through the CPA (Clinical Pathology Accreditation), and Jacqueline Smith continued with the communication when she took on the role of Histopathology Operations Manager.

“On auditing the CellNass facility in Wales I was struck by the efficiency of the whole process,” says Jacqueline. “It was 21st-century technology at its best. Compared to our situation there was so much room – it reminded me of a big superstore. I watched the whole process of slides being indexed and archived and was impressed by the speed and accuracy. Seeing the team in action was reassuring and gave me total confidence. During the visit we had complete access to the whole facility and all the staff were helpful and friendly.”

“Once the decision was made, we sat down and did the planning. The CellNass people really did their homework – asking lots of questions and assessing logistical issues they might face when removing our material. As a result, the uplift was perfect and there were no complaints from the outpatient area next door.”

“CellNass also helped us manage the remaining slides and blocks we hold on site, with more effective storage solutions that make it so much easier to find things. Each year we now remove a single year of material to CellNass, always leaving the last five years’ here in Northampton.”

“The support we received was first class and nothing ever appeared to be too much trouble to the CellNass team. Our challenge at the start of the process was to find a long-term solution – and when you’re forced to make a major change like this, you have to make sure it’s better than what you had before. With CelllNass we achieved this.”

We are always happy to welcome customers to have a look at our facilities - if you'd like a tour, please use the form on the right and a member of our customer care team will be in touch to arrange an invitation to visit.

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The First From Cambridge - Tissue Samples Storage & Archiving

“ I have people asking me why we don’t do the storage and archiving ourselves… If we were to do it the costs involved simply wouldn’t add up – using CellNass is a no-brainer!”

Did you know that the CellNass Service has now been operating for well over 10 years!

Since the initial concept the facilities have seen expansion 3 times and if you visit the headquarters today you’ll discover a state-of-the-art purpose-built archiving solution designed with the customer in mind. But why exactly did our first customer choose CellNass? To find out this and more – including their experiences of using CellNass for the best part of decade – we interviewed Ian Sturgess, Histopathology Manager at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.

“I’ve been at Addenbrooke’s for 7 years,” says Ian. “So I did inherit the CellNass system but it’s been so valuable, trouble-free and efficient that there’s never been any question about changing. I hear of very few problems so that’s got to be a good sign!”

Addenbrooke’s is a hospital connected to Cambridge University, providing care for the community while retaining a strong research focus. A tissue bank is maintained for research and education and samples here are kept for a long period (with samples recently sent to CellNass dating back to the 40’s and 50’s). With medical and tissue bank staff there are approximately 160 employees performing tests – with full consent of course – on 900,000 specimen samples a year.

“Normally there’s a legal requirement for slides to be kept for 10 years and blocks for 30 years, but due to the important research we conduct here it makes sense for our blocks and slides to be kept for much longer, potentially indefinitely– they’re a valuable resource that helps us find cures and discover new insight. The 24-hour turnaround retrieval request process available with CellNass plays an important role – when my team need to retrieve blocks/slides it’s a very easy and efficient process.”

Before deciding to opt for CellNass’ system Addenbrooke’s kept their tissue samples on-site.

So why was the change needed?

“CellNass are not just a storage facility: They collect, archive, ensure optimum conditions for tissue samples and have HTA certification, which is essential. Occasionally I have people asking me why we don’t do the storage and archiving ourselves but CellNass already have a successful facility and system in place. If we were to do it the costs involved in both the licensing and freeing my staff to go there (and retrieve) simply wouldn’t add up – It’s a no-brainer!”

Ian and his team take advantage of the CellNass indexing system and a process whereby their metal slide/block trays are taken from the cabinets, uplifted from the site and put into cardboard boxes at the CellNass facility, with the metal trays then returned – eliminating the need for Addenbrooke’s to purchase new cabinets. Having established that Ian is happy with a system that is working well it felt like time to discover how Addenbrooke’s first heard about CellNass.

“Although I wasn’t in charge when we opted to use CellNass I’ve actually known Colin Brewer – who is very much of the histopathology sector – since about 1988. He approached me when developing the idea for CellNass and used me as an informal sounding board. They’re people I trust and despite CellNass being more than 10-years old there’s still nobody offering a comparable service.”

We are always happy to welcome customers to have a look at our facilities - if you'd like a tour, please use the form on the right and a member of our customer care team will be in touch to arrange an invitation to visit.

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Human Tissue Authority (HTA) Licensed Cellular Pathology Archiving

Trudy Johnson the Department Manager of Cellular Pathology at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, shares her experience of archiving at CellNass.

“The ever-growing volume of blocks and slides in our Cellular Pathology Laboratory was stored in an adjacent room, but when we made the move to LBC (Liquid Based Cytology) the room used for storage was required to house this process.

As space throughout the hospital was at a premium, our immediate and short-term solution was to move storage blocks and slides to a Council run storage facility nearby. However, without a Human Tissue Authority (HTA) licence no patient records could be externally stored resulting in the need to store these in dispersed locations around the hospital site.

The situation was far from ideal. Every time we needed to retrieve a slide, two people were required to take time out thereby losing us valuable laboratory time and often leaving us short staffed. Combine this with an ever increasing archive requirement and future plans to collaborate with neighbouring hospitals to develop a regional Centre of Excellence, we knew we needed a more effective long-term solution.

The catalyst for change occurred with the closure of the Council run storage facility in 2011. Our first steps were to identify our future storage needs from a HTA approved establishment, the level of service and support we would expect in terms of the archiving process, recall procedures, response times and associated cost. Our specification formed the basis for an open tender, alongside a site visit which would ultimately play a large part in our decision-making process.

Our first impressions during the site visit to the CellNass HTA licensed facilities in Wales were very impressive. A number of things stood out for us instantly.

Firstly, they talked our language. Pathology is clearly at the heart of their business and they understood our requirements in detail. They used the same words we used and because they are experts in slide and block storage systems, it made us realise that handling and indexing would be in safe hands. Secondly, we were shown the whole process from start to finish. Seeing CellNass people in action was very reassuring. Every stage was demonstrated fully, showing us both the process and the people involved, helping us experience their service first hand and estimate the likely response time to any request.

Once confirmed as our preferred archiving partner, we welcomed the CellNass team to Gateshead where they made a visit to our existing store and conducted necessary risk assessments for moving and lifting the material. For our convenience, CellNass removed everything in its existing state, indexing and repacking back at the archive facility. The service was soon put to the test when we made a quick recall, leaving us delighted in the ease by which the process worked.

An interesting benefit we have found of archiving with CellNass is the ease in which we can cost and retrieve groups of blocks or slides for research work. Previously, our staff could spend hours retrieving and providing internal retrieval costs – now it happens simply and quickly, without any interruption to laboratory time.

Being treated as a valued customer and building long-term partnerships has always been more important. So we were very pleased when CellNass agreed to provide a flexible service arrangement under the banner of our Managed Service Contract – helping us maintain an aligned procurement strategy into the future.”

We are always happy to welcome customers to have a look at our facilities - if you'd like a tour, please use the form on the right and a member of our customer care team will be in touch to arrange an invitation to visit.

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Does archiving Histological materials offsite require a leap of faith?

The University Hospital Aintree previously used an all-purpose storage company for their external archiving of histological materials. This article details the problems overcome and the improvements made by switching to CellNass.

Mike Venney from University Hospital Aintree shares his experiences

“At University Hospital Aintree, the space we have available for storage is finite with every available inch used throughout. So inevitably we got to a stage where we had to consider using an external archiving partner. We looked for a company that could store slides, blocks and associated paperwork and a colleague recommended a well-known storage company. Initially, we made the decision to only store materials over 5 years old, after which samples are infrequently recalled.

But things didn’t go according to plan. Our account managers changed on a regular basis and when we requested a sample, our first point of contact was a call centre where the understanding of the stored samples and how to handle them was low. We also had problems with basic indexing, caused by errors in their database and the fact that whole consignments were indexed with a single bar code. When we requested an individual slide it was difficult for them to locate, and on one such occasion, this involved a patient with a recurrence of breast cancer whose sample we needed to test for tolerance towards a type of chemotherapy.

In such a serious situation we requested back the whole batch and found the individual sample ourselves. CellNass first came onto our radar when we were looking for a partner with an HTA licence necessary to store post mortem material. Straight away we found that CellNass knew exactly what we needed and understood the way laboratories work. We were also given the chance to tour their facility and meet the team. The first big difference we discovered was that blocks and slides were indexed in small usable amounts within agreed sample ranges. This gave us reassurance that we would be able to get samples back without experiencing the problems of the past.

When the material was eventually transferred from the storage company to CellNass it was found to be damaged with many slides broken – something we’d experienced on previous recalls. CellNass did their best to recover and repair as many as possible. They knew where things were at every stage and gave us realistic timescales. During this transfer we needed some material returning that the storage company had not catalogued. CellNass went out of their way to locate and return them – a great test at a challenging time.

When previously asked for material by colleagues, we always hoped they could be returned – but could never guarantee it. Now we are about as close to 100% confident as we’ll ever be. To say we’re pleased is an understatement!”

Mike Venney, University Hospital Aintree

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CellPath Welcomes Mid-Wales Manufacturing Group

On Wednesday 16th February, CellPath had the pleasure of welcoming the Mid-Wales Manufacturing Group to our headquarters, here in Newtown, Powys.

During the visit, we gave them a tour of our manufacturing facility; one of our unique selling points that allows us to guarantee the quality of our products.

We also gave them a tour of our CellNass service, offering a complete Cellular Pathology archiving solution, plus a look at our newly built warehouse, due to officially open in approximately 3 months.

We are always happy to welcome customers to have a look at our facilities - if you'd like a tour, please use the form on the right and a member of our customer care team will be in touch to arrange an invitation to visit.

More >