It’s a privilege to use this opportunity to highlight the vital and varied work of our rapid response laboratories (RRLs). Located in the hospital they serve, RRLs are responsible for all urgent, non-specialist testing 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. As the ‘spokes’ to HSL’s ‘hub’ laboratory, the Halo, they play a key part in driving up the efficiency, responsiveness and overall quality of our service.
RRLs – at the sharp end
My role is to act as the link between the Halo and the RRLs, ensuring we provide a cohesive service. The strength of the RRLs lies in their locality. Physically embedded in the hospital (or, in the case of 60 Whitfield Street, very close by), they are closely connected to frontline clinical services and can place the needs of their local trust as their priority.
RRLs face their own unique challenges. The North Middlesex deals with a huge volume of urgent work, for example, while the Royal Free manages a large number of highly specialist referrals. With contract managers and consultant pathologists on their doorstep, RRLs are at the sharp end of delivery and often the first point of call if any issues arise. It’s one of the reasons we’re so committed to improving communication between sites – to help people feel supported and connected to the larger HSL team.
Shared sense of purpose
Creating a more unified service is my driving force. Over the last year and a half we’ve made significant steps forward – building stronger relationships between the RRLs and the Halo, as well as between the RRLs themselves. The RRL managers’ meeting is an excellent example of this, providing regular opportunities for managers to come together and support each other as they work through particular issues. Having these fixed points of contact means everyone is now much more conversant with what is happening across the HSL network.
We’ve also introduced more networking and exchange opportunities for scientists and support staff, including secondment opportunities in specialist departments for those completing their IBMS portfolios. We regularly organise tours of the Halo for people working in the RRLs – and are keen to get staff from the Halo visiting the RRLs too.
Bringing people together from different labs, departments and specialities helps build a sense of shared purpose, which is already having a positive impact on service delivery. For example, RRL sample reception staff are dispatching samples much more accurately now that they’ve visited the Halo in person – and can appreciate the size and complexity of its operations.
Looking to the future
Our RRLs have successfully navigated some significant changes over the past year, with large-scale building and renovation works, the installation of new equipment and the roll-out of new IT systems. Thank you to everyone for your positivity, resilience and commitment to delivering a safe and uninterrupted service during this time. We are confident these changes will significantly improve your working environment and the quality of pathology provision at these sites.
With the RRLs at Barnet and 60 Whitfield Street nearing completion, it’s an exciting time for everyone at HSL. I’m looking forward to working closely with staff across our whole network to continue strengthening relationships between our laboratories and helping everyone feel a valued part of the team.