A new pathology laboratory at St James’s Hospital, serving Leeds and hospitals across West Yorkshire and Harrogate, has come a step closer, after the completion of demolition of old buildings to prepare for the development.
The site has now been handed back to Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust by demolition contractors, Connell Brothers, after they completed preparing the ground for the new ‘state-of-the-art’ laboratory, which will be designed for fast, accurate, routine, and specialist testing.
The new laboratory, as part of the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Pathology Network – formed through the collaboration of the West Yorkshire Association of Acute Trusts (WYAAT) – will support hospitals across the region to improve diagnostics and help meet the growing regional demand for specialist treatment and care, as well as providing development opportunities for staff. Earlier this year Leeds-based BAM Construction was appointed as the design and build contractor following a competitive process under ProCure22. It is hoped to have the new facility completed in 2023.
The news on the new pathology laboratory comes as the Trust has begun implementing its post-COVID recovery plan for its patient services – including the wider pathology service. This includes a focus in the histopathology laboratory on delivering faster cancer diagnoses, ‘world-leading digital pathology innovation’, developing automation to support quicker testing, and working to bring together sample reception processes in readiness for the new laboratory. The next stage of the laboratory project is to complete engagement with staff and stakeholders on the new designs; the Trust expects to submit a Full Business Case for the development by the year end, and hopes to start construction shortly after.
The new facility will allow Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust to incorporate some of the services currently housed in outdated facilities in the Old Medical School at Leeds General Infirmary. Most of these, and some delivered from St James’s University Hospital, will be incorporated in the new building. It will also enable it to release old estate at Leeds General Infirmary that could be developed to benefit Leeds in the future as part of an Innovation District in the city centre – a partnership between the Trust, the city’s universities, and Leeds City Council, to focus on healthcare talent, industry partnerships, and research and innovation. It could bring about economic benefits for the city and wider region of up to £11.2 bn in net present value terms, and create over 3,000 jobs.