Isle of Man News - POSTED Thu 10-05-2012

Pathology Lab at Noble’s Hospital opens to the public to mark national Year of Pathology

by Martin Rigby

Pathology Lab at Noble’s Hospital opens to the public to mark national Year of Pathology

2012 marks 100 years since the formation of Institute of Biomedical Science and this is being celebrated across the UK, in addition it is also ‘National Pathology Year’.  To mark the occasion in the Isle of Man, the Pathology Department at Noble’s Hospital is opening the doors to the Pathology Lab for a limited number of the public on Wednesday, 16th May.


The pathology team consists of pathologists, biomedical scientists, medical lab assistants, anatomical pathology technicians and a small number of admin staff; all of whom work with both primary and secondary care doctors and nurses to diagnose, treat and prevent illness.  The Island’s only Pathology lab is based at Noble’s Hospital and it’s here that most specimens, from basic blood tests to biopsies (removal and examination of tissue from the body) go for analysis.  Nationally, pathology is responsible for the successful diagnosis of 70% of all health conditions.


Tony McMaster, Pathology Division Manager at Noble’s Hospital said: “Pathology is a vast and complex subject with a number of sub-specialities.  Here in the Isle of Man we have a highly dedicated team of Biomedical scientists who carry out the majority of tests most of us will have had done at one time or another, such as testing a urine sample or blood.  We also undertake more complex analysis such as biopsies where we look for cancer, and even genetic testing.  Like all fields of medicine, pathology continues to advance at a rapid pace.  Last year we carried out over 1.5 million diagnostic tests in clinical chemistry alone and the workload increases year on year.  Pathology has evolved to support doctors and nurses on the front line by helping to accurately and effectively determine what might be wrong with people.  The results produced by the pathology departments provide a ‘snapshot’ of the patient in terms of the body’s chemistry, blood and infection status.  All of this information is used by the medical staff to manage the patient.


“It’s an exciting profession and we have a key role at the heart of the health service.  Part of our aim with the National Pathology Year is to simply raise awareness.  To many people, the health service is often the nurse they see on a ward or the GP they see at their local practice; but that’s only the tip of the iceberg.  We’re hoping that by providing an opportunity for people to come and have a look round the lab, the public can get a better understanding of what it is we do; from the safety and quality checks involved to the state of the art equipment we use.  We also need to encourage people to think of pathology as a career option, which we currently support through trainee placements where we can sometimes offer students who go off-Island to study biomedical science with a trainee post; ensuring that we can help bring home grown talent back to the Island and recoup the investment Government has made.  Pathology is a profession that has a great deal of responsibility, but it’s also a job that’s extremely rewarding and we’re looking forward to sharing this with the public.”


The open evening is planned for Wednesday, 16th May starting at 17:30 and lasting until 19:30.  Numbers are strictly limited to 40 on a first come, first served basis.  Anyone who is interested should call 650634, noting the following:

  •  Participants must be able to stand, walk and climb stairs over a 45 - 55 minute period
  • Participants are requested not to bring bags or heavy coats, as no storage is available for these and space in the lab can be tight in places
  • No food or drink is allowed.

Tony continued: “It’s a shame, but we can only accommodate 40 people for the tour.  The Pathology Lab is open and working 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year, so we have to ensure that we can continue with business as usual whilst hosting our visitors.  We also need to be mindful of health and safety and confidentiality, ensuring there are enough staff available to help with the guided tour.  If it’s a success and there’s demand, we might look to put on more sessions during the year.”


The Pathology Department at Noble’s Hospital provides Island-wide services with six diagnostic laboratories and is also responsible for the mortuary and the Island’s Blood Transfusion Service.


Minister for Health, David Anderson MHK, said: “I welcome this initiative by the pathology team at Noble’s Hospital.  So much of our healthcare system is behind the scenes and although opening it up – even for short periods – brings  with it challenges, it does help the public to lift the lid and gain an understanding of the many specialities involved in providing health services on the Island.”

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