Pathology Blueprint Programme

The Pathology Blueprint Programme will explore options for moving the management of laboratory services from each Trust into a single regional pathology management structure, along with the entirety of the NIBTS, and the functions of the NI Pathology Network.

Message from Programme Director

Thanks to the significant input from our stakeholders, we are making good progress against the key milestones set at the start of the Programme in January 2022. We are really keen to continue to engage you in this work and, at our upcoming round of engagement events in February and March 2023, you have the opportunity to contribute your thoughts and ideas about the future management structure for pathology services in Northern Ireland. Further information on how to join these events is in the “Roadshows” section of this webpage where you can also find the documents I refer to in this update. At the engagement events, you will be able to learn more about the work being undertaken and also have the opportunity to contribute your opinions.

The Programme team held a Benefits Workshop with stakeholders in November 2022. Four discussion groups were asked to think about the potential benefits that could come from a new, single, regional pathology management structure for pathology services. Each group focused on one of the four Design Areas: Corporate Functions; Governance; Assets & Facilities; and Planning & Performance Management. These groups generated a massive 121 ideas. The Programme Team analysed these and found 10 key themes. Work is continuing to produce and agree a final list of anticipated benefits and how these will be measured to let us know if they are being achieved as we move forward.

Understanding the potential benefits will help the Programme to select the preferred option for the organisational form that the new pathology management structure could take. The programme has consulted on and agreed an inclusive process that involves stakeholders in selecting that option. This process begins on 24 March 2023 and will conclude in early July 2023 when we will know the preferred option.

As well as the Benefits work, in January 2023, the Pathology Blueprint Programme Board agreed a set of Design Principles that were also co-produced with our stakeholders. These Principles will help guide and keep us focused on achieving the best possible design for the management structure.

Information provided to us by stakeholders at Design Workshops in the summer of 2022 has been used to develop an Initial Design through the four programme workstreams and Design Team. At present, this lists all the areas that will need to be considered when we start to create the ‘Detailed Design’ later in 2023 once the preferred option is confirmed. The Detailed Design will describe how the new management structure could work in practice.

It is really important that you attend and participate in the engagement events as it will help us ensure that your views are considered. There will be further engagement with you in late summer/early autumn to let you know how the work is progressing and give you the opportunity to contribute to the next stage of the programme.

Karin Jackson
Blueprint Programme Director

Chief Medical Officer’s welcome to the programme

Professor Sir Michael McBride Chief Medical Officer, DoH

As the Senior Responsible Owner (SRO) of the Blueprint Programme, I am delighted work is now underway to design the future management structure and operating model for HSC pathology services.

The pandemic showed just how important sustainable pathology services are to our health system. In recognition of this, last autumn the Minister  announced a £40m investment in a regional Laboratory information system (LIMS) and published a policy statement setting out the future vision for pathology services, including the establishment of the Blueprint Programme to plan for a new regional pathology management structure. Alongside the important work taking place through the NI Pathology Network, these developments will create a strong foundation for a sustainable world class pathology service for HSC patients well into the future.

The first step in that journey will be the forthcoming series of stakeholder engagement events in May and June being organised by the programme. The Department’s Rebuilding Management Board has given its collective support for this work, and I hope you will engage wholeheartedly in the programme as it moves forward. The Department recognises the scale of change in pathology, we will take account of that in our planning, but we must retain the strong focus on delivering our high-quality business as usual during this time of change.

Professor Sir Michael McBride
Chief Medical Officer, DoH

Pathology Network Board welcomes Blueprint Programme


Jennifer Welsh, Chair, NI Pathology Network

Pathology Network Board

At Pathology Network Board on 22nd April 2022, the establishment of the Blueprint Programme was welcomed. Network Chair since 2010, Jennifer Welsh described how the Pathology Network has had an important role in driving improvement in pathology services since its inception in 2009: “we are now striding forward with major developments that will enable us to provide the best possible pathology service for patients, donors and service users into the future”.

The Network has been and remains a critical enabler for the NI Pathology Information Management Systems (NIPIMS) Programme. In the same way, it will enable the Blueprint Programme to engage effectively with pathology stakeholders and services in the Blueprint design. The Network welcomes its engagement by the Blueprint Programme and looks forward to taking part in the stakeholder engagement events in May and June.

We in the Network will continue with our current workplan, because the new management structure will adopt and use the products that the network is currently developing. These include new career and training opportunities for staff, standardisation and more regional approaches to how we work across the spectrum of pathology service delivery to improve quality. The Network will strive to ensure pathology services are at the heart of shaping their future.

This programme also spells a time of change for the Network, since its functions will become part of the new regional pathology management  structure. The opportunity to embed the highly effective multi-disciplinary, multi-professional regional planning and working that has evolved through the Network will greatly enable the speed with which the new management structure, once designed and approved, may become operational.

Jennifer Welsh, Chair,
NI Pathology Network

Staff Engagement Roadshows, Round 2

Registration is now open for the Regional Roadshows that have been arranged for the end of February and early March using the Flyer.

Along with the two Virtual Events, a number of in-person Roadshow Events have been arranged across the region in which the Blueprint Team and invited Speakers will share the initial design and initial list of benefits with stakeholders and confirm that the design will enable the benefits. In addition, the agreed process and timeline for options shortlisting and appraisal will be shared.

Everyone attending should read the essential reading:

Further event information:

  • Agenda
  • Benefits Report Summary 07/11/2022
  • Workstreams Terms of Reference

Virtual Engagement Events

Your attendance and participation at the ongoing engagement events and workshops is important and will help us ensure that your views are considered. These events will update you about the pathology transformation blueprint programme which is considering options for the new management structure.

Upcoming Stakeholder Engagement Events

 Who is invited?  These large open events are for HSC staff, pathology service users in primary & secondary care, professional bodies, trade unions, or university staff who are pathology stakeholders. Click on the link to register (conducted via Zoom).

Quarterly Townhall 10.00 – 11.00 hrs: 

  • Friday, 07/04/2023
  • Friday, 14/07/2023
  • Friday, 06/10/2023
  • Friday, 15/12/2023

Frequently Asked Questions

The Working Group, which includes HR and Trade Unions, continue to develop a range of questions put to the programme during the Blueprint engagement events and are captured in the FAQ Booklet.

Blueprint FAQ Booklet

Ongoing Programme Development

A number of groups have now been formed.

Workstream 1: Corporate Functions, Co-Chairs: Catherine Teggart & Claire Smyth

Workstream 2: Governance, Co-Chairs: Michael McKenna & Jena Crawford

Workstream 3: Assets & Facilities, Co-Chairs: TBC

Workstream 4: Planning & Performance Management, Co-Chairs: Neil Martin & Ronan Strain

All workstreams are convening to formalise feedback taken from the first round of stakeholder engagement to formulate the Business Areas and their Functions, in addition to identifying anticipated Benefits and Dis-benefits of the Blueprint Programme.

This process will be undertaken by a series of meetings taking place w/c 28 November 2022 and w/c 12 December 2022.  After which all findings will be handed over to the Design Team for additional checking and formulating to form part of the final proposal being submitted for approval to the Department of Health and Minister in 2023.

Design Team:, Co-Chairs: TBC

This team will convene early January 2023 to formalise all findings from previous processes.  A cross-specialisation and Trust representation has been invited to form this team.

Programme Board

Programme Board includes representation across the stakeholder groups, and ensures there is strategic leadership for all areas of the Blueprint Design.

DoH SRO Professor Sir Michael McBride, CMO Pathology Network Chair Jennifer Welsh
DoH Deputy SRO Ryan Wilson, Director of Secondary Care Pathology Network Manager Ronan Strain
DoH Pathology Policy Finola McGrady, Policy Lead Pathology Network Clinical Director for Blueprint Dr Michael McKenna
DoH Healthcare Science Professor Ian Young, Chief Scientific Advisor
Programme Director Karin Jackson, CX NIBTS NIBTS David Small, Non-Executive Member
Commissioning Lead Cara Anderson, Assistant Director of Commissioning NIPIMS Programme Martin Murray, Core LIMS Programme Manager
Public Health Agency Dr Sinead McGuinness, Consultant in Public Health Medicine Patrick Breen, BPaT Programme Manager
Business Services Organisation Mark Bradley, Interim Dir. of Customer Care & Performance Blueprint Programme Sarah Buckley, Senior Programme Manager
Belfast Trust & Regional Labs and Operational Services Caroline Leonard, Director, Cancer & Specialist Services Northern Trust & Regional Planning & Performance Management and IT Neil Martin, Director of Planning, Performance & Informatics
South Eastern Trust & Regional HR, OD. Domestic, Transport, Support, Corp Comms. Legal & Corp Services Claire Smyth, Director of HR, OD & Corporate Services Southern Trust & Regional Finance, Procurement, and Estates Catherine Teggart, Director of Finance, Procurement & Estates
Western Trust & Regional Clinical Governance Dr Catherine McDonnell, Medical Director &

Dr Michael McKenna Associate Medical Director



FINAL V1.1 Blueprint Design Spec 13.02.23
FINAL V1.1 Blueprint Design Spec 13.02.23
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