(Aotea News, March 2009)

Dr Karen Wood
Wellington SCL
Chief Executive

The provision of pathology services has again been in the news with the media covering the current events in Auckland. As we go to print the current provider of services in Auckland, Diagnostic Medlab Ltd, has just been given notice. The DHBs have said they would only give Diagnostic Medlab notice when they are sure the move to a new provider will be seamless.

The Chair of the NZMA, Dr Foley, was quoted in the media saying the NZMA is concerned about the effect of the uncertainty on pathologists as the situation is putting laboratory staff under duress. The NZMA is also concerned about the transition process as it is essential that the level of care for patients not be compromised.

These events serve to reinforce the central role pathology plays in the modern practice of medicine. Wellington SCL recognises this and is continually working to provide you, as referrers, with the services you need, principally the timely provision of high quality test results.

As with all health services, there are not unlimited funds for laboratory testing. Our initial examination of the growth in volumes over the last 3 years show that the rate of growth is more than anticipated. Our goal is to work with referrers in 2009 to explore ways of ensuring essential testing continues to be readily available. I strongly believe that the laboratory must achieve this with the support and innovative solutions that can be provided by referrers. I hope to convene a small working party that may look at these issues, working with your representative organizations.

In this newsletter we have provided information on the new assay for Herpes simplex virus. A new LightCycler 480 has been installed which allows us to move to a test which is more sensitive and specific. It will also enable us to apply the technology to other infectious disease diagnosis in the future.

We have also provided information on the clinical use of some biochemical tests. These are not new tests, but we receive a number of requests which are not appropriate and therefore felt some brief notes might be of value. If there are topics you would like us to cover in future newsletters, please contact us; either directly to me or to Fiona James on 381 5979.

I know that you are all very busy and inundated with information, but please take the time to read this newsletter as I hope that in doing so you get better use of your laboratory service.