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Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is investing over £2.28 million of government Local Growth Deal funding towards the creation of a new Histopathology Diagnostic Hub for Dorset at the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The investment is one of the actions being taken by Dorset LEP to support COVID-19 recovery in the region by accelerating healthcare resilience at this testing time and is expected to secure over 120 jobs in the healthcare sector. It will help to put Dorset at the front-edge of histopathology diagnostics, speeding up patient diagnosis, and ensure a healthy county for the future.

Histopathology is the diagnosis and study of diseases of the tissues and involves examining tissues and/or cells under a microscope. The Dorset LEP investment is for the introduction of a 500m2 high quality histopathology laboratory and support space at The Royal Bournemouth Hospital which is being supported by a further £20 million match funding contribution by the NHS.

The Histopathology Diagnostic Hub will be part of a wider new Pathology Hub in Dorset which aims to significantly improve patient diagnostic services in Dorset. The new digitalisation and application of Artificial Intelligence will potentially lead to improved speed and reliability of diagnosis for illnesses.

Working towards this goal is One Dorset Pathology, a collaborative partnership between the pathology services at three hospital trusts in Dorset – the Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and, The Royal Bournemouth & Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Minister for regional growth and local government Simon Clarke MP said: ‘Over these past few months our NHS staff have contributed to an unprecedented national effort to tackle coronavirus and so I am delighted to confirm over £2.2 million through the Local Growth Fund for the development of this new Histopathology Diagnostic Hub.

‘The development of this new diagnostic hub will make patient diagnosis in Bournemouth quicker and more reliable and secure 120 high-quality jobs, making a real difference to peoples’ health and the economic growth of the region.’

Jim Stewart, Chair of Dorset LEP, said: ‘Investing millions into our local NHS services at this time makes me extremely proud. The new Histopathology Diagnostic Hub will deliver against the strategic objectives as set out in the Dorset Local Industrial Strategy utilising medical technologies to address the grand challenge of an ageing society and will be an important asset in improving healthy ageing. It will also support our ambition for Dorset to be a national leader in the One Health concept, adopting a holistic approach that ensures our population ages well and lives sensitively in the environment.’

Stephen Harding, Head of Service for One Dorset Pathology said: ‘Diagnostic testing has an ever-increasing role in healthcare, with pathology used by over 80% of patients to inform diagnoses and treatment plans. Every person in Dorset will use the service at some point in their life. Having the best available facilities will therefore benefit the majority of people in Dorset and allow our fantastic NHS staff to give the best possible care.’

Councillor Vikki Slade, Leader of BCP Council and Dorset LEP Board Member, said: ‘Not only will this project protect the health of our Dorset population, but it will identify Bournemouth and Dorset as a leading place for histopathology. Our NHS staff are our frontline and we should be equipping them as best we can; this project shows this is Dorset’s intention.’

Councillor Spencer Flower, Leader of Dorset Council and Dorset LEP Board Member, said: ‘The benefit this project will bring for the whole population of Dorset is immense. This hub will improve the efficiency and sustainability of service on behalf of all its users, including GPs, Community Trust, as well as hospitals, serving the entire Dorset population and beyond.’

The new Histopathology Diagnostic Hub is expected to be completed and operational in Autumn 2022.

Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership is a business led private and public sector partnership, promoting local economic growth and prosperity. Dorset LEP deliver projects that support and develop infrastructure, housing, skills, enterprise and business growth to achieve long-term economic benefit for all in Dorset. For more information visit the Dorset LEP website www.dorsetlep.co.uk.

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