THE pathology labs at the Royal Blackburn and Burnley General hospitals have been saved from closure.

A review was prompted after an independent report by Lord Carter called for pathology services across England to be centralised in fewer locations, to release cash to pay for improvements.

But bosses at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust said there would be ‘operational risks’ of a partnership with other trusts and ‘limited clinical and financial gain’.

This will come as welcome news for staff who may have been forced to relocate to the Royal Oldham Hospital, where blood sciences and microbiology laboratories would have been centralised under one option.

However, the in-house option will still bring about £650,000 in savings through ‘collaborative working’ with other trusts, which chief executive Jim Birrell said may not have been achieved without Lord Carter’s recommendations, which were published in 2008.

He said the review had ‘put the grist in the mill’ and added: “We are more or less delivering the Carter recommendations without having to lose control of our own pathology services. The local GPs are very happy with the pathology we provide and were not keen on it going out of the area.”

Delighted non-executive director Martin Hill said a consultant had written to the board expressing concerns about centralising the services, so the decision showed the trust had listened to staff.

Pathologists specialise in the detection of disease through the use of a variety of investigative techniques and their work can be vital in finding an accurate and early diagnosis and improving the prospects for treatment.