Cotman Centre official opening
Norfolk's new cellular pathology laboratories were officially opened by the Trust's chief executive, Paul Forden, and David Hill, the chief executive of the James Paget Healthcare NHS Trust, on Wednesday 21 June.
The laboratories are part of a £7 million development of a former IFR (Institute of Food Research) building on the Norwich Research Park – now known as the Cotman Centre, which is also home to the hospital's new Radiology Academy.
The new laboratories bring together medical, scientist, laboratory and administrative staff from both the NNUH and James Paget Hospitals to provide a complete cellular pathology diagnostic service for Norfolk and North Suffolk. Up to 70 per cent of diagnoses are thought to depend on pathology services as a whole.
Since the Cotman Centre became operational last July, some 46,000 patient tissue samples have been prepared and diagnosed in the histopathology laboratories, plus a further 50,000 cytology samples.
The spacious new laboratories include many state-of-the art improvements, including height-adjustable workbenches and automated immuno-stainers for more specialised analysis of tumours. This highly sensitive equipment can be used to test for specific tumour markers. One of these is Her-2 which predicts whether patients with breast cancer will benefit from the newly available drug, Herceptin.
The merger with the James Paget cytology team has created one of the largest cervical screening centres in the country. NNUH was one of the first hospitals to introduce LBC (Liquid-Based Cytology) for cervical screening and this has proved so successful that it has now been rolled out nationally. Instead of samples being 'smeared' on to a slide in a doctor's surgery or clinic, they are now mixed into a small pot of liquid and processed in a machine to create a more reliable, uniform thin layer of cells for examination.
Training and development is a high priority for the medical and scientific teams, with the former, in partnership with Addenbrooke's Hospital, providing one of the first Senior House Officer (SHO) training schools in Cellular Pathology in the country. The Cotman Centre is well equipped for this purpose with a multi-headed microscope so up to 11 people can examine a specimen at the same time, for teaching purposes or perhaps to discuss a particular case.
The move to the Cotman Centre has created more space at NNUH for Chemical Pathology (the analysis of blood and body fluids) and Haematology laboratories, and these facilities are currently being refurbished to provide room to develop these vital services.
Mr Paul Forden, chief executive of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, commented: “We are proud of the high standards set by our scientific teams who are too often the unsung heroes of the health service. These spacious new laboratories at the Cotman Centre are equipped with the latest technology and facilities to help us meet the growing demand for cellular pathology services for many years to come.
David Hill, chief executive of James Paget Healthcare NHS Trust added “This is an excellent example of the NHS working in partnership for the benefit of patients in Norfolk and North Suffolk.”