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3 June 2024

Building trust key to LIMS upgrade at Berkshire and Surrey Pathology Services


When BSPS wanted to upgrade to the latest version of Clinisys WinPath, it knew that pathology services across two counties were depending on a smooth go live. Close, partnership working with Clinisys’ experts delivered that, alongside a move into the Telefonica Tech UK data centre enabling the network to gain new functionality to support digitalisation of histopathology reporting.

Berkshire and Surrey Pathology Services was established in 1998 and through further consolidation since that time, BSPS now has 5 partners as part of the joint venture.  

This means it provides pathology services to acute hospitals and general practices that serve more than 4 million people in the south of England and south London.

So, when the network planned a major upgrade to its laboratory information system, it needed complete confidence before pressing ‘go’ on the go live. “This is huge,” says managing director Nicola Newman.

“We cover six acute hospitals and its GP practices, if we get this wrong and we have no LIMS and need to go into contingency, we could potentially close A&Es, maternity units and end up diverting ambulances. We need to be confident about the process, because if it goes wrong, it has a major impact on service delivery. That confidence is what our partner trusts ask of us when we say: ‘We are ready.’

Building confidence

It was close, partnership working with Clinisys that built the confidence required for the network to move from Clinisys WinPath 7.21 to 7.24 in spring 2024. “BSPS are strategic partners for Clinisys, and the reason is that we have built that trust,” says Adam Chapman, a programme director who acted as project manager for the upgrade.

“On this project, we built that confidence by displaying our product specialist knowledge, while BSPS went through validation and testing – we met in the middle.

“Four weeks prior to go-live, we had a strategy meeting to say ‘go’ or ‘no-go’ and then there was a further meeting two weeks later. We all agreed we had reached the right level. We had sign-off from every department. Telefonica and our service desk network were all lined up. Then, on the day, it went really well.”

At a glance: Berkshire and Surrey Pathology Services

•A contractual joint venture between five acute NHS trusts: Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals, Frimley Health, Royal Berkshire, Royal Surrey, and Surrey and Sussex Healthcare
• More than 1,200 staff working from six sites
• Conducting 55 million tests per year
• Serving a population of 4 million people across Berkshire, Surrey, Hampshire, West Sussex and South West London
• And providing a bowel cancer screening service for 17 million people and HPV screening services for over 4 million women.


Delivering strong, resilient foundations

As part of the upgrade, BSPS transformed its infrastructure and instance of Clinisys WinPath by migrating into the Telefonica UK data centre. At the same time, it adopted new functionality, including the latest version of Clinisys’ analyser data management solution, SampleNet, and its business reporting and analytics tool, PathManager.

Previously, the WinPath Enterprise LIMS was hosted on premise. Now, it is a fully hosted and managed service within the Telefonica UK datacentre, providing significant resilience and availability of our services.

“Moving to a fully managed environment, delivers certainty how our services will be supported and maintained for the long-term,” says Mark Sanwell, BSPS chief information officer.

“It provides a scalable service offering, improves reliability and enables future growth. This is a critical system and having strategic partners help us transform and run services in both digital and technology is a major step forwards”.

Our collective teams have been fantastic delivering a complex programme, leveraging industry experience to drive our hosting and cloud strategy, and provide a greater integration with 3rd parties that improves our ability to expand and enhance the service.

At a glance: April 2024 upgrade

• Moved to a fully managed service
• Moved into the Telefonica UK data centre
• Upgraded to Clinisys WinPath 7.24
• Upgraded to PathManager 3.4.5
• Moved to SampleNet v16


Enabling new ways of working

The upgrade is also a key enabler for the introduction of digitalisation of histopathology reporting, in which the traditional slide that is examined under the microscope is replaced by a digital image that can be reported from a computer screen.

Clinisys is working closely with the companies that provide the hardware and the workflow software required to enable BSPS’ histopathologists to move over to the new way of working in September.

“Histopathology is on-track for a go-live with digital histopathology, which is significant for us, because it will modernise the service, improve patient safety and drive further efficiencies, says Nicola.

“This has also been great for our blood science colleagues. They can deliver a much more resilient operating model. If a piece of equipment or a site goes into contingency, we can easily move work to other sites for processing across the network without having to re-book the work in”.

A blueprint for networks to follow

BSPS is one of 27 pathology networks that have been formed across England, following reports from Lord Carter of Coles that argued the network model would deliver efficiency and safety benefits.

A single LIMS, to standardise working processes and improve communication between laboratories and clinicians has been recognised as an important foundation for an effective network.

Now, Mark argues, networks should be looking at building strategic relationships with their suppliers, so they can move to the cloud and adopt new technology as it becomes available in the future.

“We have a standardised level of service across the network,” he says. “All the building blocks, from a technical perspective, are in place and bearing fruit.” Nicola agrees: “This project is a key element of our future pathology blueprint,” she says.

“We had everything on premise, and now we have moved to a hosted service and have experts looking after our infrastructure and software. We have standardised IT and equipment across the network. All that means our model is very scalable. If there is further growth for networks, we have created the blueprint to do it.”

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