Hospital trust appoints new pathology director
A NEW director has been appointed to oversee pathology across Bristol.
The role was proposed following an inquiry into alleged errors in the diagnosis of cancer and other illnesses made by histopathologists studying tissue samples at Bristol Royal Infirmary.
Recommendations, which were published in a report released in December, included the proposal of a joint pathology service for the whole of the city with the two main hospital trusts working together.
The appointment of a new clinical director of histopathology was announced at a meeting of the University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust board.
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It was discussed during an update on the progress that the hospitals have made on the action plan that came out of the recommendations of the review, where more details of a new case of potential misdiagnosis emerged.
But the hospital trust has said it cannot yet reveal details about who will be leading the service because the recruitment has not been finalised.
As part of the work on a more unified service across the city all pathologists at the central Bristol trust have been asked to sign honorary contracts with the neighbouring hospital.
They have also been asked to sign declarations to show they have read new joint protocols that have been brought in at the hospitals.
Despite managing to appoint a head of histopathology and adult pathologists the trust has suffered difficulties in recruiting additional paediatric and perinatal (the period from half-way through pregnancy until several weeks after birth) pathologists that are needed to ensure the service is suitably staffed.
Non executive director at the hospital trust, Paul May, said: "I welcome the joint appointment, it is a major step forward and was great to see people from North Bristol NHS Trust on the appointment panel."
Chief executive Robert Woolley said the alleged case of misdiagnosis in a patient, which was reported in the Evening Post earlier this month, was being treated as a "serious incident" by the trust.
He said: "We became aware of this in February and subsequently investigated and dealt with that as a serious incident. It has been brought to the attention of NHS Bristol and NHS South West. We have also taken steps to advise the Care Quality Commission and Monitor, the foundation trust regulator of that incident."
Mr Woolley said the patient had come through the Avon Breast Screening Service, which is run by the trust, before being referred for potential surgery at Frenchay Hospital, where an investigation is also being carried out aligned to the city centre trusts's analysis.
He told a meeting of the UHBristol board that the two trusts would present the findings together.
In response to concerns from a public member of the foundation trust about the histopathology service, the chief executive said: "What is clear to us is that the inquiry we commissioned itself took independent advice from the Royal College of Pathologists, who themselves said that evidence either on the cases subsequently audited or the cases where individual concerns were raised by clinicians at North Bristol NHS Trust over a period of eight years there was no evidence to suggest we are providing anything other than a safe service."