New lab technology for Norfolk hospitals

Patients in Norfolk’s three acute hospitals and community health services are the first in the region to benefit from new technology that diagnoses gut infections by detecting fractions of DNA rather than growing samples in a petri dish.

Eastern Pathology Alliance, installer of the technology, runs laboratory medicine services on behalf of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH), which acts as the hub hospital, the James Paget University Hospital and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital at King’s Lynn, plus all primary care laboratory tests for Norfolk and Waveney.

Ngozi Elumogo, director of infection prevention and control at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said: “The molecular diagnosis machine will carry out a quicker, more sensitive test, identifying a wider range of pathogens.

“It will enable us to provide a next day diagnosis for patients, speeding up their treatment, when previously it would take about five days to grow a culture in the laboratory.

“The new machine is much more sensitive and will detect minute elements of DNA when some bacterial infections may not have shown up using traditional laboratory methods. It is a step change in the way diagnosis is made for gut infections such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, and C. diff. We are delighted to be the first hospital in the region to be making use of this technology.”

Richard Parker, chief operating officer at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said: “This is a major investment in new technology which will bring great benefit to patients in terms of quicker diagnosis and treatment, and ultimately a shorter length of stay in hospital.”