Pathology networks

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We have identified 29 potential pathology networks, allowing for the transformation of pathology services into a series of networks across the country.

We have been working with providers since the end of last year, to validate pathology data. These data collections have enabled the NHS to construct its most comprehensive picture of pathology services across the country, through which it is able to compare overall, regional and local performance year-on-year. By bringing together clinical expertise, pathology services will become more efficient, in order to deliver better value, high quality care for patients.

Proposed pathology consolidation networks PDF, 7.2 MB

Using this national data from acute non-specialist providers we have identified 29 potential pathology networks, allowing for the transformation of pathology services into a series of networks across the country.

Analysis shows that the 105 hospitals in England which provide pathology services typically do 1.12 billion tests per year at a cost of £2.2 billion. The new pathology networks are expected to save the NHS at least £200 million pounds by 2020-2021.

What does this mean for providers?

We have been working closely with all NHS providers to understand how pathology services can be delivered more efficiently for patients, while ensuring they receive high quality care. Providers have been put in to 1 of 29 proposed pathology networks and must now work with their local communities, and clinical staff to implement this better way of delivering services for patients.

Our support offer

We will provide full support and guidance at every phase. There will be a series of activities over the coming three months to ensure networks are learning from pathfinders as well as being supported with the latest evidence. We will also provide a template toolkit so providers do not have to start this process with a blank page.

How pathology networks will improve patient care and outcomes, and deliver potential efficiencies?

For patients:

  • patients should receive quicker, more advanced and reliable screening test results for illnesses including cancer (under proposals aimed at improving how NHS pathology services are organised)
  • access to pathology services won’t change – core services will still remain in hospital labs
  • the introduction of a new wave of genetics

Delivery of potential efficiencies:

  • under our proposals, the 105 individual pathology services within NHS Hospitals in England will join-up, and form a series of 29 networks
  • the new networks will bring together clinical expertise, ultimately making these services more efficient that deliver better value, high quality care for patients
  • enhance career opportunities for staff, whilst being more efficient, delivering recurrent projected annual savings to the NHS of at least £200m


Patients deserve the best quality of care at good value which is why there is a real urgency to bring how we run our pathology services into the 21st century. By bringing these services into larger, more efficient networks, patients will have a better access to innovative services, and receive test results quicker.  

Every hospital will still have its own lab meaning patients won’t need to travel to continue receiving the services they need. We now expect hospitals to involve patients to make sure that all local needs are being served, quality of care will not be compromised and there is better access to cutting edge services.

Professor Tim Evans, National Director for Clinical Productivity

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