As HSL’s former Central London Operations Manager, Linda Boxer has more experience than most on what it takes to establish and run one of the largest pathology laboratories in Europe. For Linda, continuing to deliver a safe, high-quality service in the context of major strategic and developmental upheaval was of paramount importance. As she retires and the Halo nears completion, Linda reflects on her journey with HSL.
HSL Online: How did you first get involved with HSL?
LB: I was involved with HSL right from its inception. It was 2012 when the idea of a forming a partnership between TDL, UCLH and the Royal Free was first proposed. At the time I was operations manager at the Royal Free, so was very much involved in the intricacies of how such a partnership might work. My role involved liaising closely with clinical colleagues to ensure that they were on board with this large-scale reconfiguration of services, and figuring out exactly how it would be managed from an operational perspective.
My background as a biomedical scientist, as well as my experience as an operations manager, definitely helped me in my role at HSL. Managing a number of different hospital departments during my 15 years at the Royal Free – everything from A&E to dermatology – gave me real insight into how pathology informs and supports the healthcare decisions and treatment plans that are made for patients. In addition, it was clear to me that this new partnership could help bring pathology right up to date, and add value to the NHS and the healthcare economy in general.
HSL Online: What was your biggest challenge during your time at HSL?
LB: The biggest challenge for me was right at the very beginning, trying to persuade people of the benefits of restructuring the service into a hub and spoke model. While Lord Carter’s review was a driving force behind the reconfiguration, it also made sense to us from both a financial and clinical perspective. Consolidating routine pathology and diagnostic services into the Halo, while keeping rapid response diagnostics on-site at each NHS trust, was not only more cost-effective, it also allowed us to invest in new laboratory equipment and cutting-edge technology.
Pulling pathology out of the hospital was a major change for many of our staff. But now that we have moved into the Halo – a brand-new, state-of-the-art laboratory dedicated to providing a world-class service – people can see that the reconfiguration really has delivered on its promises.
HSL Online: What makes HSL unique?
LB: Although other partnerships exist, I really believe the Halo – and what it offers in terms of laboratory facilities, work environment and developmental opportunities – sets HSL apart. With the very latest diagnostic technology, we can deliver an even better service and higher standard of care for our patients. Even though it’s been a huge challenge setting up the Halo, it’s definitely been worth it.
HSL Online: Reflecting on your time at HSL, what will you miss the most?
LB: I will definitely miss the people the most. There is such a great community at HSL and I am so grateful for all their support throughout my time here. It’s been a rewarding experience to be part of this partnership and I’m really pleased that staff across all trusts are now seeing its benefits.