Cytology improvement guide - achieving a 14 day turnaround time in cytology

Published November 2009

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IMP/cytology001: Cytology improvement guide - achieving a 14 day turnaround time in cytology (PDF 1.6Mb)

The Cancer Reform Strategy made a promise to 'ensure that all women receive the results of their cervical screening tests within two weeks by 2010'.

The ScHARR report (Feb 2006) highlighted that with minimal investment it was possible to deliver the service to 50-66 per cent of women within seven days with the remainder receiving their result within 14 days.

In 2006 the Review of Pathology Services in England by Lord Carter endorsed Lean as the method of choice for improving processes in pathology services. Working in partnership with the NHS Cervical Screening Programme, NHS Improvement supported ten pilot sites to test the Lean methodology to demonstrate how to deliver a two week service.

The approach involved bringing multi-disciplinary teams from primary care, laboratories and recall agencies together to work collaboratively on the whole pathway. Staff were trained in Lean methodology, applied the learning, redesigned their own service and delivered significant improvements in productivity.

This guide shows how the 14 day standard can be achieved.