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A Decade of Innovation

July 2024 marks a significant milestone in our history as our award-winning lab team mark their tenth anniversary.

The lab team is made up of 6 talented individuals including Victoria Snape - Laboratory Manager, Rachel Tring - Laboratory Technician, Olivia Haigh-Nicholls - Laboratory Technician, Sam Rhodes - Assistant Laboratory Technician, Marta Gruarin - Pathologist and Heather Holmes - Laboratory Assistant. Together, the team work behind-the-scenes undertaking crucial testing required for the patients of Scarsdale Vets and Pride Veterinary Referrals.

The lab has always been pivotal to the veterinary care we provide, and it remains an essential cornerstone of our service as it allows for rapid results meaning treatment can be planned without delay.   

Over the last decade, the lab has continuously evolved to accommodate new and advanced equipment for testing. Through ingenuity and dedication, the team have sought to seek innovative ways to enhance their service benefiting patient care.

Originally, the lab was based in the attic area of Scarsdale Vets, Markeaton. Samples were dropped to the lab once a day from Scarsdale Vets practices and Pride Veterinary Referrals. However, owing to an increase in samples received from Pride Veterinary Referrals, it was proposed that the lab moves to Pride Veterinary Referrals to allow samples to be processed quicker.

In July 2014, plans were finalised for a purpose-built lab within Pride Veterinary Referrals. After careful thought, the team designed the lab maximising the space available to ensure they had dedicated areas to carry out testing.

As the team began to settle into their new surroundings, they began to respond to the ever-growing demand for testing by purchasing additional equipment. This included the IDEXX Procyte Haematology Analyser which was installed during September 2014 allowing the team to provide an automated 5-point differential when testing blood samples.

In May 2018, the team adopted the TOSOH AIA-360 machine which allowed them to run T4 and cortisol in-house. With the machine in place, it meant that the team were able to expand their endocrinology testing to diagnose and monitor conditions such as Addison’s disease, Cushing’s disease and disorders of the thyroid.

It was during this year, that the team also launched their Save the Sea Turtle Campaign. The campaign, aimed at reducing the amount of plastic used within the lab, meant that in over 7 months, the team had saved 637 plastic urine pots and 637 single use plastic pipettes. The team continue to engineer new and innovative ways of reducing their plastic usage. Their conscious efforts were acknowledged and celebrated in 2018 when they won a Green Initiative Award.

During March 2019, the team invested in an IDEXX Catalyst analyser as their new out of hours biochemistry analyser this enabled the team to start running CRP, Phenobarbitone, SDMA, Progesterone and Fructosamine in-house.

In July 2019, Radio 1 host, Ariell Free, visited the team as part of their Radio 1 @ Work Roadshow. The team received a Radio 1 Approved Workplace award and Olivia gave an interview live on the Clara Amfo Breakfast Show about the role of a veterinary diagnostic laboratory technician and how vital it is to the veterinary industry.

An important moment occurred during October 2019, as the team introduced the small furries profile. This expanded their exotics catalogue enabling the team to conduct sample testing for animals such as rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs.

June 2020 and the team were feeling the impact of COVID-19. With only 2 remaining lab members, it marked the beginning of a very challenging few months. Recruitment for a new lab technician was put on hold and for the first time in the lab's history, the team had to run a full lab service with only 1 lab technician working at a time. Although a challenge, the team navigated their way through testing times and adapted to ensure the service ran seamlessly.

Fast forward to March 2021 and the lab hatch was installed making it much easier and quicker for vets and vet nurses to drop off samples to the lab. The leaner way of thinking has benefited the service greatly.

In April 2021, the Pentra C400 was installed. This automated wet biochemistry analyser allows for quick multiple testing allowing 420 tests per hour.

June 2021 and the team enhanced their testing capabilities even further by introducing Baermann’s testing. This technique is used to detect Lungworm (Angiostrongylus) larvae.

In the years that followed, the team expanded its equipment and testing capabilities. Having invested in 3 new VCM analysers, 1 housed in our intensive care unit and 2 in the lab, meaning the team can test the elasticity and viscosity of clotting formation. In addition, the Biomerieux Vitek 2 Compact has revolutionised the microbiology service providing specific bacterial identifications and MIC values and the Enalees Argos PCR analyser has enabled the team to run PCR in-house.

In April 2024, Rachel, Laboratory Technician, won Practice Support Staff of the Year 2024 at the PetPlan awards. The award presented to Rachel in Manchester, recognises the diverse and essential contributions made within the veterinary industry, particularly in the realm of veterinary diagnostic laboratory technology.

The following month, Olivia, Laboratory Technician, became a finalist in the sustainability category for the IVC Evidensia Brilliant People Awards. The awards aim to recognise those who have gone the extra mile for their clients, colleagues and animals, and celebrate another year of hard work, collaboration and innovation at IVC Evidensia.

Today, the lab offers over 150 tests for many different species including small animal, equine, farm and exotics.

Innovation remains core to our lab's journey. The team have always strived to stay at the forefront of technological advancements in the field, constantly seeking new ways to improve services and workflow to enhance patient care.

We would like to thank everyone who has been part of the lab’s journey so far. Our team's unwavering commitment to excellence and care has been invaluable to Pride Veterinary Referrals and Scarsdale Vets.