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British Health Service Budget Cuts Mean Less Funding for Pathology Laboratories

Pathologists and Medical Laboratory Leaders to Gather For 9th Annual FiLM Conference

Many pathologists and clinical laboratory managers outside of the United Kingdom (U.K.) remain unaware of its government budget-cutting initiatives that call for all sectors of government services to spend as much as 20% less money during the coming budget cycle. The nation’s oft-admired National Health Service (NHS) will also undergo unprecedented reforms even as it sees severe budget cuts.

Critics of the announced budget cutbacks—put forth by the newly-elected coalition government that took office last spring—predict that reduced spending on healthcare will affect everything from hospital staffing to clinical laboratory testing to the available number of students in medical schools. These critics believe patient wait times will greatly increase, and access to some medical services may be severely restricted.

In the United Kingdom, clinical laboratories and histopathology labs are already being asked to do more with less funding. NHS officials have announced their intention to invite private laboratory providers to bid for services in selected regions of England, Scotland, Wales, and North Ireland as one strategy to reduce the cost of laboratory testing.

Laboratory consolidation and integration is another cost-cutting strategy of the U.K. government that will be familiar to pathologists and clinical laboratory managers in the United States and Canada. In certain communities in the U.K., existing hospital laboratories are being asked to consolidate, to integrate, and to regionalize their laboratory services across multiple testing sites. The goal is to save money by eliminating excess or duplicate clinical laboratory testing capacity, to benefit from economies of scale, and to offer both hospital consultants and primary-care physicians an enriched menu of diagnostic laboratory tests and related services.

These radical changes in the organization and operation of pathology, histopathology, microbiology, and laboratory informatics will be discussed in detail at the upcoming Ninth Annual Frontiers in Laboratory Medicine (FiLM) conference, on February 1-2, 2011 at Austin Court in Birmingham, England. It is a time of wrenching change for this nation’s medical laboratory profession, and important sessions will address every element of the government’s plans to restructure pathology testing in the United Kingdom.

Essential Survival Strategies for U.K.’s Pathology Laboratories

Kicking things into gear on the morning of day one at FiLM will be a detailed explanation of the financial and quality challenges facing the NHS by Chief Executive Ian Cumming of West Midlands Strategic Health Authority, U.K. He will explain the scale and scope of the reform and reorganization steps announced this summer by the NHS. Hospitals, primary-care clinics, and pathology laboratories are being asked to cooperate in making these reforms successful.

FiLM is unique because it focuses on the management and operation of pathology and histopathology laboratories. To fulfill this mission, it presents experts who are achieving “best practices” in the clinical and financial performance of their medical laboratories. For example, delegates to FiLM will hear sessions such as these:

  • Professor Sir Mike Richards on “Pathology and the Cancer Reform Strategy.” Richards is National Cancer Director, U.K.
  • “Lean Management for Lean Times” by Steven Mandell, Assistant Professor and Director of MLabs and Reference Testing at the University of Michigan Healthcare System, United States
  • “Impact of Outsourcing Pathology in the Republic of Ireland,” by Tom Malony, Executive Officer at the Academy of Medical Laboratory Science, Eire
  • “Current Thinking on Disruptive Innovation in Pathology,” by Chris Price, Clinical Director of the Cumbria and Lancashire Pathology Commissioning Network, U.K.

Pathology Laboratories Face Ever More Serious Challenges

“Across the globe, financial constraints are impacting how pathology and histopathology laboratories deliver diagnostic testing services, and change is gathering apace,” said Julian Barth, President of the Association for Clinical Biochemistry (ACB) in the United Kingdom. “FiLM brings together influential leaders and addresses the key challenges facing laboratory medicine.”

“This is a ‘must attend’ event for laboratory directors, clinical biochemists, pathologists, and leaders who are interested in keeping their laboratories at the leading edge of operational and clinical excellence,” said FiLM 2010’s Executive Director, Jeff Seneviratne.

“One unique aspect of FiLM is the format, which brings together a pathology innovator from the United Kingdom or Europe together with a professional counterpart from either Canada or the United States,” continued Seneviratne. “These tandem case studies are popular because they showcase different solutions to common problems in laboratory testing.

As a result of attending this conference delegates will:

  • network with policy makers and leaders who are shaping reforms in laboratory medicine,
  • understand the changing priorities of the NHS of the future,
  • share the experience of global expertise in laboratory services,
  • understand the practical changes required to deliver your key business objectives,
  • implement simple cost effective solutions to common problems and improve quality and efficiency with minimal investment,
  • be able to influence key stakeholders of the strategic benefits effective pathology services can have on the wider healthcare community,
  • have access to expertise in strategic business, operational management and improvement skills.

FiLM is an invaluable resource for all laboratory professionals and managers interested in keeping their lab organizations at peak performance. Now in its ninth year, it has a well-deserved reputation for delivering concentrated learning about the most important issues and challenges in pathology laboratory management and operations. Further, because it brings together national and international leaders in pathology management and operations, it offers the best networking on the European side of the Atlantic.

Laboratory professionals and pathologists interested in attending this year’s Frontiers in Laboratory Medicine conference can register today. (Or, copy and paste this URL into your browser: http://www.frontiersinlabmedicine.com.) There is still time to take advantage of savings provided by the early bird registration discount.

Use this link to find the full agenda, with speakers and topics. (Or access the entire program brochure by pasting this URL into your browser: http://www.frontiersinlabmedicine.com/resources/PDFs/FiLM-2009-Brochure.pdf.)

FiLM Related Information:

Full program information and speaker agenda for Frontiers in Laboratory Medicine

Download a PDF of the full agenda for Frontiers in Laboratory Medicine

To register for Frontiers in Laboratory Medicine

Visit the Association of Clinical Biochemists website

Visit The Dark Report website

Related Information:

NHS faces budget cut: doctors

NHS ‘faces huge budget shortfall

NHS reaching ‘breaking point,’ doctors warn

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