‘Lab in a bag’ will transform the way we care for patients

NHS England is backing the development of a groundbreaking mobile diagnostics service that will deliver laboratory standard test results outside of hospital and allow patients to be diagnosed and treated at the point of care.

The Labkit® Near Patient Diagnostics service is a portable bag containing devices capable of producing a range of patient test results including white blood cell count, hemoglobin, glucose, blood gases, electrolytes and urinalysis. Outcomes are captured electronically and can be transferred remotely and securely to the pathology laboratory at the patient’s local hospital, opening up new possibilities for how care is delivered.

For the first time, clinicians will have the power to make sophisticated diagnoses on the move, allowing them to identify problems and treat patients more effectively in the community, in GP practices and even in their homes.

Mike Bewick, Deputy Medical Director for NHS England, said: “Treating more patients outside of hospital is a key priority for the NHS going forward.  Point of care testing devices will grant doctors, nurses and care staff the freedom to diagnose and treat patients in any setting, and are a major step forward in helping us to achieve our ambition of delivering care where it’s most wanted: closer to home.”

Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, said: “Attending the launch and demonstration of the prototype labkit bag was extremely interesting.  It’s clearly a fantastic example of the type of innovation which can come about when medical experts and industry professionals collaborate.  Improving diagnostics and the transference of crucial data on a patient to hospitals and GPs swiftly and at the point of being attended to by a paramedic can only bring about positive shifts which should, in turn, determine more quickly the right care pathway and possibly even save lives. I congratulate all involved and look forward to hearing more about the outcomes of the trial.”

The Labkit® is the result of a collaboration between Surrey Pathology Services (a joint venture involving Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, and the Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust); the South East Coast Ambulance Service; the Ministry of Defence Hospital Unit at Frimley Park and Conworx Technology, supported by funding from NHS England.

The initial phase of the Labkit® trial began in December 2014 in two local sites. During this period, point of care testing was performed and the results captured, but these were not used for the clinical management of patients. The kit has been closely monitored and audited by biomedical scientists from Surrey Pathology Services with support from military biomedical science colleagues from the Frimley Ministry of Defence Hospital Unit, and it has gathered positive feedback both from patients and paramedics.

The next stage of the project will begin later this year and will see the service used in clinical settings, with a full roll out expected in early 2016. The launch of this product will result in more convenient care for patients and faster and better health outcomes.


  1. Laura Price says:

    Would like to find out more information on Lab in a bag trials, roll out etc. contact details for the project lead would be much appreciated.

  2. Vincent Argent says:

    We would like to take part in the pilots of Labkit Near Patient Diagnosstics.

    Dr Vincent Argent
    Consultant Pre-Hospital Emergency Medicine

    Weston General Hospital/South West Ambulance Service Area

    P.S. We did something similar at the Oxford Emergency Multidisciplinary Units ( EMU ) with I-STAT and found that we reduced the time for traditional ‘ sent to the lab ‘ bloods by over 1 hour and this was major advance in Rapid Assessment and Admission Avoidance.

    David Cameron was very interested in this when he visited out Witney EMU Unit.

  3. Rhys Tassell says:

    I’m interested in knowing more, becoming involved and understanding how whoever is responsible for the ‘equipment’ will be able to apply current accreditation standards to such a service/ implementation.

    POCT Lead CUH- Cambridge

  4. David O'Neill says:

    As with most of the comments I would like to know what is being used and where in more detail also what criteria are being used to measure what is achieved?

  5. Philip Amos says:

    Who is going to br responsible for calibration, Quality control, External Quality Assesment ? Who is responsible for the devices and reagents remaining in optimum conditions i.e. too cold, too hot. How along with this will you be able to audit and ensure competency of users ? Pretty frightening for patient care if you ask me and just cost before patient again.

  6. Chris says:

    What is the scope, i.e. what clinical services will it be aimed at (in the patient home, Healthcentres, community hospitals, etc)? Who will be responsible for the governance of the Labkit i.e. who is the liable “owner”? How much will it cost? Who will perform the tests? How will it be commissioned? Looking forward to more information, Chris

  7. Barbara Jackson says:

    Would like to know how to be part of a wider trial.

  8. Phil Bates says:

    Can you provide any information on the kit being used and opportunities to be involved in a wider trial. Many thanks

    PoCT Coordinator, East kent Hospitals

  9. Marie Corner says:

    Can we have some more information on tests covered and types of testing ?

  10. Julie Oldroyd says:

    Please could you forward more information?

    The Y&H AHSN are looking at evidenced based diagnostic technologies for implementation at scale.

    Many thanks

  11. Joanne Finney says:

    Have Out of Hours Provider been considered in the project?

  12. Richard Rosen says:

    Sounds like a major step in taking advanced care out of the acute sector and putting it into the community. You say there will be a larger clinical trial starting. How do you get to take part in it

    Mobile Working Lead, Herts Community Trust

  13. Lee Peters says:

    What analysers are being used?

  14. KATH ASHTON says:

    Please send me more information. The type of POCT devices that would be used
    and any supporting literature.