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Health Services Laboratories (HSL) describes how they overc laboratories into

If the day-to-day challenges of running a large laboratory have ever given you a sleepless night or two, imagine the insomnia-inducing prospect of planning the logistics to move around 30 working laboratories located in over 10 buildings, into one main and three smaller sites. And, all to happen without any interruption to your normal, busy service.

It’s a task in progress for Health Services Laboratories (HSL) who, since our last report, is now steadily moving into their new flagship laboratory, and parent company’s UK corporate HQ in Central London, the Halo building.

HSL was set up two years ago as a progressive partnership between the Doctors Laboratory, the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust and University College London (UCLH). The creation of the new organisation presented the constituent members the opportunity to design and build a brand new laboratory and to update the trusts’ labs to create a modern, efficient hub and -spoke system. This model was proposed in Lord Carter’s review of NHS pathology services in England, and HSL is fast becoming the leading proponent of a system that will transform the way we deliver diagnostics to meet the growing needs of clinicians and patients.

WHERE TO LOCATE? One of the first decisions HSL had to make was where to locate the main laboratory.

Requiring at least 120,000 square feet of lab and administration space, a new build on brown field sites was briefly considered. The main downside to this option was that being out of central London would present problems attracting and retaining the high number of appropriately

18 | Tomorrow’s Laboratories

qualified staff. The out-of-town idea was quickly rejected.

Being located centrally offered the attraction of being in the heart of a bioscience hub – the small area in which world class medical research institutions such as the Crick Institute, the Wellcome Foundation and world- leading universities are concentrated. HSL found their site which was to be the new hub laboratory located at Halo on Euston Road.

Despite meeting most of their criteria, it did present several challenges – the first was a vertical one. Halo rises to 11 floors at ground and above and five below – but the site’s blank canvas provided a unique opportunity to create Europe’s newest and most modern laboratory.

The logistics of moving the existing facilities into Halo and the trusts’ rapid response laboratories (RRLs) required specialist project management. Significantly, no other organisation had attempted a move on this scale.

BUILDING IN BUSINESS CONTINUITY While the many efficiencies and concentration of expertise afforded by the move were exciting, business continuity during the transition was a prime concern.

Having a new building, and largely new laboratory equipment, helped in this regard as it meant that staff members could get to know their new procedures and equipment, and test and calibrate them in a non-live situation. When the time comes, whole teams can leave their old lab on one day and turn up the next, fully familiar with, and able to operate their new one.

Another benefit of having a larger pool of analysers in one place is added contingency. Other features include a

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