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Pathology Network

Pathology Services

Health and Social Care pathology services provide a range of diagnostics in a laboratory setting and underpin much of the work in the health service.

Around 70-80% of diagnoses and 95% of clinical pathways depend on a pathology result. Pathology is a 24/7 service that carries out more than 40 million diagnostic tests across the region annually.

Pathology services in Northern Ireland employ over 1,100 staff and cost around £100m to deliver each year.

This is a service of central importance in meeting the needs of patients; however, it faces significant challenges due to rapidly changing demand, demography, technology, treatment, and clinical practice.

The Pathology Network

The health and social care system is committed to delivering a modern, sustainable, world-class pathology service in Northern Ireland, which is supported by modern information systems and infrastructure and works more efficiently and effectively to deliver patient and service user benefits.

The Pathology Network was launched in October 2009 and its purpose is to provide direction and consistency in the development and delivery of pathology services within Northern Ireland.

The Network aims to ensure clinically led, patient-centered and sustainable pathology services that:

  • Deliver safe, high-quality, evidence-based care for patients
  • Value and involve staff in decision making
  • Foster innovation
  • Continually evaluate and improve
  • Provide value for money

Having a formal regional Network and approach helps to reduce unnecessary duplication, increase consistency and standardisation of laboratory practices, and provide staff with attractive career development opportunities.

In November 2021, Minister Swann announced his policy commitment to pathology services which drives the strategic work of the Network along with business as usual.

More about the policy statement – Modernising Pathology Services

The NI Pathology Network is comprised of those who shape and deliver pathology services in Northern Ireland through a formal Network Board and formal Specialty Forums across specific pathology disciplines.  Key shareholders include (but not limited to):

  • Five health and social care trusts which include management, medical pathologists, consultant clinical scientists, biomedical scientists (BMS), medical lab assistants (MLA) & others
  • Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service (NIBTS)
  • Department of Health policy and commissioning leads
  • Professional bodies such as BMA, IBMS, ACB
  • BSO PaLS
  • Trade Unions
  • Regulator Bodies
  • Others

For further information, please contact the NI Pathology Network on


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