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Investment in automation for PHE Public Health Laboratory in Manchester

The PHE Public Health Laboratory in Manchester, which is based at Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CMFT), has become the first Microbiology Laboratory in the North West to become automated using COPAN WASPLab (Walk Away Specimen Processor) technology.

Public Health England, the Department of Health and CMFT have all invested to support the introduction of a state-of-the-art automation system for the Manchester Medical Microbiology Partnership (MMMP) laboratory at Manchester Royal Infirmary.

The MMMP, which is a partnership between Public Health England and CMFT, will be significantly strengthened by the investment and the automation, which will assist in the introduction and implementation of new technologies, facilitate new laboratory processes and lead to major improvements in clinical diagnostics within the NHS.

Working with Don Whitley Scientific, two COPAN WASPLab systems have been installed in a completely refurbished laboratory.

The WASPLab is a total laboratory automation system; specimens received into the lab will be processed on the Walk-Away Specimen Processor (WASP), and then incubated automatically. Biomedical Scientists will no longer be faced with stacks of plates and manual inputting of results into the laboratory information system. Instead, they will be interpreting and reporting results from 27 megapixel images.

It has long been thought that Bacteriology was the last bastion of traditional manual techniques, but the way in which the plates are read and interpreted will change dramatically with the new system.The new laboratory was recently officially opened by PHE Chief Executive Duncan Selbie and Sir Michael Deegan, CMFT Trust Chief Executive.

The investment will lead to significant increases in specimen processing quality, traceability, capacity and reduction in turnaround times - all good news for our users and our patients.