1 Aug, 2016

Tim Herriman, group laboratory director

If our individual laboratories are to operate at their optimum levels, then agility is going to be key. If one of our managers needs something to get things done more efficiently, faster, with greater certainty of outcome and to service the needs of our clients better, then we will do everything in our power to make that happen.

I am constantly asking managers what they need to ensure success and build on performance levels, whether that’s in specific scientific disciplines or in the entire working process. It’s one of the great joys about working in the private sector – bureaucracy is kept to a minimum and decisions are made faster which means they have greater impact.

So whether it’s setting and improving turnaround times to ensure we meet contractual requirements, getting the right staffing in place, putting in place rigorous quality control for testing or even introducing new services that our clients demand of us – we ensure that needs are met.

That kind of urgency is vital, especially when it comes to testing samples – and the Halo building has the capacity to test 40m samples a year, more than 4,500 an hour. And if further investment is required for specific teams, then decisions can be made at great speed and with long-term considerations at heart.

That agility and being able to nimbly overcome obstacles is all down to great teamwork, allowing us to constantly review and improve what we do. Yes there’s a hierarchy here but it’s also quite flat which means it’s easier for us to pull together to achieve a common aim. The labs depend on the technicians, who depend on the couriers, who depend on the management and so on – everyone is a single component bringing their skills together to build a better service for customers and patients.

Efficiency is important but so is performance, and that’s going to be one of the key elements of the Halo Building. We will give the labs the right equipment so that everyone’s ambitions can be fulfilled. And then our system of metrics will allow individual managers to measure – sometimes on an hourly basis – how good performance is, so that they can react to the situation at great speed.

I always wanted to work in pathology, ever since I graduated almost 20 years ago. My experience of being at UCH showed me how both the NHS and a private company such as TDL operate, and how much more powerful each can be when they work in tandem.

For the first time, three trusts will work together with the private sector to provide a unique service. Agility, efficiency, knowledge, expertise and teamwork – those are the ingredients that will most benefit a patient.

To be part of something so pioneering in which pathology is not just one of the priorities but the priority is so exciting. There’s a real sense of pride at what we do here, changing the impression that people have of laboratories and, with greater automation and investment in skilled staff, what those laboratories are capable of.


HSL is a partnership between The Doctors Laboratory, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust (the Royal Free London) and University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH)

Health Services Laboratories
Health Services Laboratories
Health Services Laboratories