Annette Thomas offers a personal reflection on her role in setting up and developing point-of-care testing services in Wales, culminating in the establishment of Wales’s National POCT Strategy earlier this year highlighting the vision for the delivery of services along with the creation of a more formal Strategy Board.
In 2006, as the point-of-care testing (POCT) clinical lead for Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust, I was tasked by the Chief Scientific Advisor at the time to establish a POCT group to identify how POCT could be used to improve the delivery of diagnostic services. I recently came across the agenda for the first meeting of the POCT Steering Group (representatives of pathology and clinical services, most of whom have now retired), and the agenda would still be relevant today: set up terms of reference, develop procurement strategy, identify appropriate tests and care pathways, liaise with commissioning services for primary care, establish connectivity and integration into electronic records, identify workforce skill mix and POCT training programme, liaise with Trading Standards (not sure I followed up on that), identify the role of pharmacy (once again a hot topic currently), undertake a review of the existing government guidance on POCT (previously developed by the Welsh Scientific Advisory Committee in 2004) and deliver POCT National Practice Guidelines.
The first thing I did was set up the All Wales POCT Co-ordinators Group, (recently renamed National POCT Delivery Group), an informal network of POCT managers and co-ordinators from across Wales as an open forum to discuss the implementation of new POCT programmes, share best practice, inform government on quality and safety issues and undertake specific programmes of work to deliver the outcomes required. Membership also included procurement and informatics experts. Serving a population of around 3.1 million people, the health service in Wales is provided by seven Health Boards (HB) and three specialist Trusts. The HBs are responsible for the provision of a POCT service within 15 major acute, 21 minor injury unit (MIU), 18 mental health hospitals and 30 community hospitals, along with commissioning of services over 2,000 general practitioners.
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