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New hi-tech laboratory opens at specialist heart and lung centre


For immediate release

Wednesday, 4 November 2009


New hi-tech laboratory opens at specialist heart and lung centre


Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust officially opens its new ‘Blood Sciences Laboratory’ on Thursday, 5 November 2009. The new laboratory is the most advanced of its kind in Europe and will offer faster and more accurate results through a streamlined, contamination-free testing process.


Opened by former BBC Television’s ‘Apprentice’ advisor Margaret Mountford, who is also a Trustee of CORDA, preventing heart disease and stroke, the laboratory offers a unique showcase for a number of innovations that have not been available before in a single facility. It will ensure:


  • Twenty-four hour access to test results allowing quicker diagnosis and treatment for patients;
  • Improved use of instruments saving money needed for equipment maintenance;
  • More efficient use of staff time, space and revenue; and 
  • Enhanced record keeping as systems at the new lab eliminates paper requests.


To ensure maximum benefit from the systems in the new laboratory, the process starts with an automated blood collection system at the patient’s bedside. First, patient information is entered into a hand held electronic device that is in direct contact with laboratory computers. A pneumatic tube transport system then physically moves the samples at high speed directly from the bedside to the laboratory.


Leading the new laboratory, Dr James Hooper, Divisional director for laboratory medicine at Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, said:


“We wish to improve services to patients by embracing new technology. Working closely with Beckman-Coulter UK, a medical diagnostics company, the Trust has refurbished existing laboratory facilities to bring specialities together into one state-of-the-art facility to improve patient care and make services more efficient. This means many more tests can be done using fewer blood samples from patients.


“Over 70 per cent of conditions are diagnosed using blood tests which mean they are vital to determining a patient’s treatment plan. The new laboratory has multifunctional equipment that provides faster results. This is crucial for a Trust that cares for the most vulnerable of patients.”


Marketing manager for Beckman Coulter UK, Leanne Annereau, said: “It is a privilege to work in partnership with Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, at the cutting edge of medical care in the UK.


“Our role has been to empower the laboratory to deliver an enhanced diagnostic service to its patients. The work required the complete reengineering of the lab - a key part of which involved the installation by Beckman Coulter of an automated blood sample processing system (Beckman Coulter AutoMate 800).  This automatically receives, centrifuges and sorts the tubes containing the blood samples into racks, saving time through the use of robotics. 


“Alongside regular blood chemistry tests like those for cholesterol, the laboratory at Royal Brompton Hospital has to process more complicated tests such as immunoassays providing clinical staff with crucial information to help critically ill patients on a daily basis.


“These tests are now run on a special analyser (called the UniCel DxC 600i) which integrates chemistry and immunoassay testing for greater efficiency. A unique feature is the way the sample tubes are never opened even during the testing process.  This ensures the sample remains completely intact and cannot be contaminated by external factors. 


“This is particularly important for patients undergoing major cardiac surgery as all the testing can be done on a single blood sample in one go. In addition, it protects laboratory staff from being exposed to potential hazards.  Beckman Coulter has pioneered this ‘closed tube’ technology worldwide.”




For further information, please contact:


Shima Islam, Head of media relations

Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust

Tel: 020 7351 8672 (Brompton)

Tel: 01895 828 877 (Harefield)

Mobile: 07866 536 345

Email: S.Islam@rbht.nhs.uk


Notes to editors:


About Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust


Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust (RBHFT) is the largest specialist heart and lung centre in the UK and among the largest in Europe. The Trust helps patients from all age groups who have heart and lung problems.


RBHFT has developed a partnership with diagnostics company, Beckman-Coulter to develop this state-of–the–art modern laboratory. Many of the innovations are unique and have not before been assembled in a single facility.




CORDA is a pioneering charity, dedicated since 1976 to the early detection and eradication of heart disease and stroke. CORDA currently supports research projects at Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust and Great Ormond Street Hospital.  


About Beckman Coulter, UK


Beckman Coulter UK, based in High Wycombe, is part of Beckman Coulter Inc, one of the world’s largest medical diagnostics companies.  The global company focuses exclusively on serving and supporting laboratories. It produces innovative diagnostics tests as well as the high speed analysers that process them in the hospital laboratory.  Beckman Coulter is recognised worldwide for its integrity and innovation, as well as the excellence of the tests it offers (including those to diagnose cardiac damage). The company recently acquired Olympus Diagnostics to further enhance the breadth of its product portfolio to the world’s clinical diagnostics market. 

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