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

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. A Flyer to each event will be issued nearer the event time and is used to register for the Virtual Events.

Quarterly Townhall 10.00 – 11.00 hrs:

Friday, 14/07/2023 – Preferred Option

Friday, 06/10/2023 – tbc

Friday, 15/12/2023 – tbc

Ongoing Programme Development

Having now completed the Options Appraisal Process, the Workstreams and Design Team will be asked to assist in the production work on design of a high-level target operating model for a Pathology Special Agency.

The Workstreams and Design Team will attend a ‘Kick-Off’ meeting in early October where the subsequent tasks will be proposed by the Blueprint Team. Then in October and November the Workstreams will create the description utilising a format that describes the ‘Current State’ within their Business Area/Function and organisation, then what the plans or options could be and how they could work within a new Special Agency and finally what the ‘Proposed State’ could look like. The Design Team will then further analyse these findings and check the proposal is correct and factors in risks and the Benefits already identified.

This work will form part of the proposal that will be submitted to the Minister for Health and the DoH for approval as to what the new Pathology structure will be.

Design Team

Having reached a decision on the proposed management structure for NI Pathology being in the form of an Agency, the next phase of work for the Design Team will begin in October. The emphasis will be on finalising design details for the proposed High level Target Operating Model and submit to the Blueprint Programme Board for approval in November. Details being discussed will be relevant to identifying the current operating state of Pathology in Northern Ireland then relating that to what a future state could potentially be.

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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