Terms of reference for the National Pathology and Laboratory Round Table

Name

National Pathology and Laboratory Round Table (the Round Table).

Context

Laboratory testing plays a critical role in clinical decision making providing clinicians with information that supports and expedites diagnosis and treatment. Laboratory tests also underpin disease screening for risk factors, determination of disease severity, recovery likelihood, therapeutic selection, monitoring and investigation of adverse outcomes. At the population health level clinical laboratories are critical in the identification of hospital acquired infections, identifying antimicrobial resistance patterns, and in the control of infectious disease outbreaks and exposures to toxic substances. 

Pathology and Laboratory services are involved at multiple stages of the patient pathway and cross community, primary, secondary and tertiary service boundaries. It is generally accepted that approximately 70% of diagnoses rely on output from Pathology or Laboratory services1.

The Ministry of Health established the Round Table in 2011 to engage sector leaders in response to the Ministerial Review Group report that noted that that service access for laboratory services was inconsistent both in terms of the range of services available and the cost of services to consumers. They recommended that the Ministry of Health review the arrangements for planning, funding and provision of national, regional and local laboratory services with a view to determining the optimal planning, funding, and service configuration arrangements for New Zealand.

In 2014 the Round Table was established as a clinical committee reporting to the Director General of Health.

1. UK Department of Health (2010) Report of the Second Phase of the Independent Review of NHS Pathology Services in England. Chaired by Lord Carter of Coles. An Independent Review for the Department of Health

Purpose

The purpose of the Round Table is to provide national leadership and independent advice to the Director General of Health on clinical, scientific and strategic aspects of the Pathology and Laboratory sector. Including but not limited to: 

  • using laboratory information to support the efficient planning and commissioning of health services for populations
  • informing investment in new health technology and procedures
  • the protection of society from harm associated with communicable diseases
  • the early detection and screening of disease
  • ensuring that systems, processes and practices are in place to provide assurance to the health service about the quality of laboratory and pathology services and information.

To achieve this purpose the Round Table and its members will:

  • maintain a strategic framework and associated annual workplan that is adaptive and responsive to the changing needs of the health sector 
  • determine key priorities for the Round Table 
  • support any subcommittees in implementation agreed recommendations resulting from the workplan
  • establish links across the sector and other agencies
  • appropriately guide the introduction and adoption of new technologies
  • monitor local and overseas developments related the Pathology and Laboratory sector and provide advice on the implications for New Zealand
  • oversee the function of any subgroups established by the Round Table
  • respond to questions and requests from the Director General of Health
  • make recommendations concerning the establishment of limited life subgroups to the Director General of Health.

Accountability

The Round Table is accountable to the Director General of Health through the Chair and is expected to:

  • provide regular update to the Director General of Health through the Chair
  • respond to requests for information and advice within the required timeframes.

Membership

Membership is made up of interested sector leaders, Ministry of Health staff and stakeholders from the Pathology and Laboratory sector. 

Membership is for three years, with the option of reappointment after this time by the Director General of Health through the Chair. The Director General of Health may remove a member from office before the end of the term of appointment. Round Table members may also resign at any stage during their term by notice in writing to the Chair. 

 

Chairperson

The Chief Medical Officer, Ministry of Health will chair the meeting. All meetings must be presided over by a chairperson. In the event of the chairperson being absent, a Round Table member shall be elected as acting chairperson by those members present.

Working arrangements

The Round Table will meet three times per year. If important matters require consideration outside of this schedule, extraordinary meetings may be held if requested by the Director General of Health.

At every meeting of the Round Table ten members, including the chairperson, shall form a quorum. The Round Table will make decisions by consensus where possible. 

Before the meeting, the Round Table must be satisfied that members with the appropriate knowledge /expertise will be in attendance. The secretariat will make all attempts to ensure meetings include as many members as possible and, prior to each meeting inform the Round Table which members are not able to attend. The Chairperson will decide on whether or not to cancel or postpone a meeting.

The Ministry of Health will provide a secretariat function for the Round Table. 

Conflicts of interest protocol

Members shall abide by the Conflict of Interest Protocol for the Ministry of Health Statutory bodies and Other Committees.

Members should document their conflicts of interests and identify any conflict of interest prior to a discussion of a particular issue. The Round Table can ask a member to withdraw or limit participation in the event that the member has a conflict of interest.

 

Confidentiality

In carrying out its remit the Round Table:

  • shall not disclose any confidential information obtained in the course of the Round Table activities without the approval of the Director General of Health
  • No member of the Round Table shall make media statements of any kind on behalf of the Round Table unless requested to do so by the Director General of Health.

Review of Terms of Reference

The Terms of Reference and membership of the action group will be reviewed annually.

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