The Royal London Hospital - Meeting our Customer’s Challenges from Amalgamation
Amalgamation of laboratories can be a mixed blessing, bringing increased efficiencies on the one hand, but at the same time raising challenges. Not least among these is the centralisation and increased volume of samples being stored. We asked The Royal London Hospital to tell us about his experience of amalgamating, and why they turned to CellNass for a solution.
“The Royal London and Bartholomew’s Hospital laboratories joined forces in 1994, although it wasn’t until 2006 that we aggregated them as part of a new move – driven by the Carter Report – toward gaining full benefit from automation by increasing the size of laboratories. It’s an approach that actually works better for blood sciences, where items can be bulk-processed, than for cellular pathology, where you still need space for people and equipment.”
Staff in the resulting combined laboratory were dealing with 60,000 specimens a year, and due to a strict ‘no cull’ policy, no sample was ever destroyed. “Because we’re a teaching hospital and do a lot of research, we save everything.”
Pressure increased further in 2012 when the laboratory was unexpectedly merged with that of Whipps Cross University Hospital, adding substantially to the volume of blocks and slides. Whipps Cross already outsourced to CellNass as its archive management solution and it seemed sensible to look at the possibility of expanding this off-site strategy for the laboratories as a whole.
“We wanted somewhere with appropriate HTA-compliant facilities as well as proper organisational controls and systems. In fairness, there were not many options around at that time and no one else offered anything like the full portfolio available from CellNass. They were also from our world, knew the business we were working in, and had staff with the necessary laboratory background experience. We felt we could trust them. Some of our colleagues were worried about access to old samples, but we received a guarantee that any item could be returned within 24 hours.”
As space diminished, the outsourcing began. Specimens were also transferred to CellNass from two older off-site stores, containing material from the 1960s, 70s and 80s, whose environment had become unsuitable and whose lack of supervision gave cause for concern. A few years on, they still believe the right decision was made.
“Outsourcing to CellNass has enabled us to maintain our policy of retaining samples indefinitely, which would otherwise have been impractical and costly. By freeing up a huge amount of premium space on hospital sites, as well as saving time, it has delivered very good value for money. When we consider the reasonable price, flexible service and reliable retrieval, along with the peace of mind that comes from knowing that the archive environment and staff are dedicated to our needs, we are happy to say that our experience with CellNass has been very positive.”