Robots in £11m labs give tests boost for patients

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STATE-of-the-art laboratories giving patients from the region faster and more specialised test results have been officially opened.

The centre at the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield, built at a cost of £11m, will process
more than 10 million tests each year carried out by staff at Sheffield’s hospitals, GPs in the community, as well as other hospitals across the region, the UK and
Europe.

It brings together different specialist laboratory staff under one roof for the first time which managers hope will lead to more efficient working, better collaboration and the ability to use new automated robots which can process more patient results than ever before.

The reorganisation also means hospital staff can use to the maximum the latest technology including analysing patients’ DNA to help cancer sufferers or testing for patients to detect genetic abnormalities.

Officials say work has also been carried out at the city’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital to centralise the specialist histopathology and haematology oncology departments which means cancer patients across South Yorkshire and north Derbyshire will receive more rapid results and expert diagnoses.

The new centre also gives GPs and hospital doctors access to services 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will help deliver greater efficiency in providing blood and blood products for patients who require transfusions. This development is being seen as vital to the hospital which has become the major trauma centre for seriously injured patients from South Yorkshire and parts of the north Midlands.

Tony Pedder, chairman of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust who officially opened the building, said: “This fantastic new centre will enable fast, efficient diagnosis of health conditions for more than one million patients each year.

“We are very fortunate to have some of the best laboratory medicine specialists in Europe working in our trust and with the opening of this new centre we now also have state-of-the-art facilities to support their work.

“It truly is remarkable that in this building and also across the city at the Royal Hallamshire, around 10 million tests are carried out each year – tests which without doubt will save many lives not just in Sheffield but across this whole region.”

Prof Tim Stephenson, consultant histopathologist and former clinical director at the trust who led the project to build the new centre, said it now had “leading-edge” facilities giving key support to laboratory specialists in delivering critical work.

“More than 70 per cent of medical decisions depend on laboratory medicine diagnostic testing results so it is wonderful to see the trust investing in such a key area that truly helps patients,” he added.

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