Construction of a new Acute Hospital Laboratory (AHL) has begun at the Leeds General Infirmary (LGI).
The ‘24/7-operated’ AHL is being created to provide urgent pathology facilities to support the hospital’s clinical teams when the main pathology service relocates to a new pathology laboratory currently under construction at the city’s St James’s Hospital.
Morris & Spottiswood began construction of the AHL in mid-January, and is set to complete it this summer. It will co-locate Blood Sciences and Blood Bank together in one purpose-built facility, but to ensure there is no disruption to the service during the works, the Blood Bank team moved to a temporary lab within the LGI last December.
Pathology is one of the key projects in Leeds Teaching Hospitals’ ‘Building the Leeds Way’ programme of capital investment and improvements across the Trust. Most of the Trust’s pathology services are currently provided from outdated facilities in the Old Medical School at the LGI and from St James’s Hospital. The new pathology laboratory will bring most of these together, and be home to advanced equipment and technologies that the Trust says will support ‘leading-edge testing and diagnostics’ for patients right across West Yorkshire and Harrogate. Staff will begin moving into the new building on a phased basis at the end of 2023.
Simon Worthington, the Trust’s director of Finance, and senior responsible officer for the Building the Leeds Way Programme said: “We have reached yet another exciting milestone within our project that is set to transform pathology services for both Leeds and West Yorkshire. While many of our pathology teams will move to the new St James’s site later in the year, the AHL will continue to provide a vital service at the LGI, giving clinical teams on-site access to urgent and emergency testing. It will also allow our staff to work in an environment equipped with new technology, supporting our drive to improve the way we provide diagnostic testing for people right across our region.”
Once vacated, the Old Medical School will form part of a plan to use surplus LGI estate to develop an ‘innovation village’, which is expected to deliver up to 4,000 new jobs and almost £13 bn in net present value, forming part of the Trust’s wider health improvement plan – which includes the development of a new adults’ hospital, and a new home for Leeds Children’s Hospital at the LGI.
Funding for the new laboratory is supported by the Health and Care Partnership, and the Trust says its goal is to develop ‘a world-class pathology building that is flexible, digital by design, and that supports the delivery of Net Zero carbon’. It will be mechanically ventilated with heat recovery systems to minimise power, and re-use heat. The new laboratory will also incorporate a single shared Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) for the region, meaning tests can be ordered and tracked, and the results reported electronically, to clinical services across West Yorkshire and Harrogate, speeding up results for patients.