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7 October 2010, 06:00
The pathology unit at Kettering Hospital should now run more efficiently thanks to a £3.4 million revamp.
The work - which started last September - has just been completed and means staff are working in more open plan, spacious labs. The fittings in them (such as lab benches) now meet the latest health and safety guidelines and the size of the testing area has increased by around a third. It's hoped the extra space will help the unit cope with the annual rise in the number of tests it's asked to do.
The upgrade is the second part of a refurbishment project which began in 2008 with £1.2 million being spent on the cellular pathology department.
Associate Medical Director for Clinical Services, Dr Gwyn McCreanor said:
"The hospital has needed to expand and update its pathology department for some time - partly because of a lack of space and partly to cope with the ever increasing demand for diagnostic tests from the growing local population."
She told Heart that this upgrade will help increase the amount of work that the staff there can do, and means their processes will 'flow better':
"Patients will definitely benefit because we'll have more efficiency in the lab. Samples will get turned round faster and we'll be able to do a greater range of testing within the space here."
At the moment the department does around 4,000 tests every day. While the refurbishment was being carried out, staff still maintained the same level of work - despite having to move to temporary locations for several months at a time.
It was all over seen by Philip Blackburn, who's worked at the hospital for 46 years, and delayed his retirement by 12 months so he could see the project completed.
Mr Blackburn said:
"It has been a tremendously complicated operation which I, and all of the other departmental managers, have been working on for the last three years.
"The challenge has been to carry out this very intrusive work - which has involved entirely stripping out some departments and starting again - while maintaining our 24/7 pathology results service which is so vital to both hospital doctors and clinicians and to local GPs.
"But after three years of hard, and often stressful, work we have done it and now the department has much more space for expansion and we can now properly prepare for the challenges further population expansion will bring to us."