Medstor recently completed work at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital’s (NNUH) Cotman Centre, installing specialist storage and materials management solutions as part of a major upgrade of the cytopathology department. The refurbishment prepares the centre for its new role as one of the eight laboratories across England responsible for implementing the amended NHS Cervical Screening Programme. The hospital, which has an outstanding record of meeting the 14-day turnaround target for cervical smear testing, won the tender following a national procurement process conducted by NHS England and NHS Improvement.
Following UK National Screening Committee recommendations for the NHS Cervical Screening Programme in England, cytology (until recently the first test performed on all screening samples) has now been replaced by Primary Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Screening. HPV causes over 99% of all cervical cancers; this process will identify more women at risk and according to NHS England could prevent around 600 cases of cervical cancer a year, possibly even eliminating it entirely. The introduction is part of the NHS Long Term Plan’s ambitious aim to catch tens of thousands more cancers earlier, when they are easier to treat and the chance of survival is higher.
To maintain quality standards for the NHS Cervical Screening programme, laboratory services covering larger geographical areas and populations have been introduced, with the Cotman Centre serving the East of England. The Cotman Centre is one of the largest cytology departments in the country. The changes in screening will see the number of smear tests it processes go up from 90,000 a year to 450,000, taken from across seven counties. Medstor has played an important part in preparing the laboratory for this increase, helping to deliver an upgraded infrastructure that can handle the samples safely and efficiently. The refurbishment will also help to ensure a comfortable, positive and productive atmosphere in the laboratory, supporting the team carrying out this vital work.
The cytology team took the lead in specifying what was required and worked with Medstor’s in-house design department and the hospital estates team to develop specialist workbenches with integral shelving and drawer space. The benches are suitable for standing or sitting stools, ensuring maximum user comfort. The laboratory features a roller shutter wall hatch, which meant that the workbench surfaces had to be flame retardant to comply with fire regulations. To meet this requirement, Medstor sourced specially treated Trespa panels, which were then incorporated into the design.