Published on: 26 April 2022
Work has begun on a new state-of-the-art pathology laboratory to serve patients in Leeds, West Yorkshire and Harrogate.
The facility, at St James’s Hospital, Leeds, will support hospitals across the region to improve diagnostics for patients and help to meet the growing regional demand for specialist treatment and care - as well as providing development opportunities for staff.
Leeds-based BAM Construction have begun work on the site at the north end of the St James’s Hospital campus and are currently preparing the ground ready for building the new laboratory. The new facility is expected to be completed in the summer of next year (2023) and become operational in the autumn.
It will be part of the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Pathology Network, formed through the collaboration of the West Yorkshire Association of Acute Trusts (WYAAT), and will support the delivery of pathology services to patients across the region.
The start of works on site is a boost for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust’s wider health improvement plan which includes the development of a new adults’ hospital, a new home for Leeds Children’s Hospital and the largest single-site maternity centre in the UK in one building on the Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) site.
The new pathology laboratory will allow the Trust to incorporate most of its pathology services currently housed in outdated facilities in the Old Medical School at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) as well as some of those delivered from St James’s University Hospital.
The vacated Old Medical School building will form part of a plan to use surplus estate at the LGI to develop an innovation village which could create up to 3,000 new jobs and deliver up to £11.2 bn in net present value.
Simon Worthington, the Trust’s Director of Finance and Senior Responsible Officer for the Building the Leeds Way Programme, said the start of works on the new pathology laboratory was a signal of intent by the Trust to revitalise healthcare in Yorkshire.
“Seeing the contractors moving onto the site to start building the new laboratory at St James’s Hospital is a real boost for everyone and the beginning of exciting times in the development of healthcare for Leeds and the wider region,” he said.
“Pathology teams have continued to do a tremendous job in the fast turnaround of testing during the Covid pandemic while working in outdated facilities. The new laboratory will mean they will be able to work with new state-of-the-art equipment and buildings which will help provide an even better service for patients.”
Dame Linda Pollard, chair of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said the start of works was a real commitment to the Trust’s overall plan to improve healthcare. “The Government decision on the new pathology laboratory shows how committed they are to our exciting plans for taking healthcare to the next level in Leeds, the Yorkshire region and beyond.
“Our development of two new hospitals and a new innovation district for the city is also the catalyst for the wider regeneration of Leeds city centre with the innovation district bringing new investment and jobs.”
Two members of the pathology team who will be working in the new laboratory when it is completed will be Senior Biomedical Scientist Emma Payne and Higher Level Support Worker Ioanna Fasidaki who both work in clinical immunology.
Emma, who has been at the Trust for 15 years, said the current facilities in the Old Medical School were not best suited to a modern scientific environment. “It will be good to work in a new facility that will allow us to work more efficiently,” she said. “It will also bring clinical and cellular immunology teams together so we can work closer and extend our skills.”
Ioanna, who began working in immunology in 2020, was also looking forward to the move. “I am very excited about the new laboratory because we will not only be working closer to our other pathology teams but it will provide a faster turnaround for the testing that we do which will benefit patients.”
Paul Cleminson, Pre-construction director for BAM Construction North East, said the work they were carrying out on site was amongst the most advanced in any UK healthcare facility.
“It builds on an excellent relationship with St James’ and the wider Trust based on our previous work together at the i3TMRI/Hybrid Cardiac Theatre scheme and the backlog maintenance programme across Leeds as well as incorporating the most modern ways of working known to our sector,” he said. “It also draws on the lessons we’ve learned through delivering the Nightingale Hospital for Yorkshire and the Humber.
“It’s an exciting time to be involved with construction but this scheme will be especially important as it pushes the boundaries for us all.”
The new Laboratory forms a key part of the strategy for delivering pathology services across West Yorkshire and Harrogate and is prioritised by the West Yorkshire & Harrogate Health and Care Partnership that focuses upon delivering integrated care across the region.
Funding for the new Pathology Laboratory is supported by the Health and Care Partnership recognising the importance of this critical development for partner organisations.
The Trust aims to develop a world-class pathology building that is flexible, digital by design and that supports the delivery of net zero carbon. It will aim to be fully mechanically ventilated with heat recovery and systems to minimise power and re-use heat.
It will also incorporate a single, shared Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) for the area which will mean test requests can be ordered, tracked and results reported electronically to clinical services across West Yorkshire and Harrogate.