The SLMTA Hero Award

Dr Yagalen Naidoo, Pathologist, National Health Laboratory Service Northdale Laboratory, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa

Esther Tsheola, Proficiency Scheme Manager, National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS), South Africa

Dr Yagalen’s passion for laboratory work and quality was crucial in driving the Northdale Laboratory to be accredited by SANAS in 2015. He was the first pathologist to attend the SLMTA workshops in the NHLS. He agreed to be part of SLMTA to ensure his familiarity with the staff requirements and to minimize any misunderstanding in the implementation process. This was highlighted in many long discussions with presenters at the various workshops on the role of staff in the laboratory.

Dr Naidoo used the ISO standard and the SLIPTA checklist to develop a tool for implementation of monthly Quality & Technical (Q&T) meeting to ensure that staff is complying with procedures in the respective departments. This was trended and used to measure improvement in all departments. This tool has subsequently been adopted by the National Quality Assurance Department to implement FMQ0029 within the NHLS - a checklist used to monitor quality tasks in the laboratory on a monthly basis.

Together with the Laboratory Manager Praneel Budhu, he re-wrote the Northdale Laboratory manual to ensure compliance with both the ISO standard and SLIPTA checklist. This manual was then explained to laboratory staff and used to assess their knowledge of laboratory QMS. He developed an Excel-based template for all departments to capture monthly data that can be exported into a PowerPoint template to standardize data presented at the Management Review Meeting.

He managed the SLMTA implementation process, coordinated the step-by-step approach to achieving the desired target, and ensured compliance with the procedures. His hands-on involvement demonstrated that pathologists were part of the laboratory staff. He led by example - working late, nights and weekends; cementing floors, cleaning the laboratory, cutting worktop benches and structuring workflow.

He oversaw the training and competency in the laboratory including verification of equipment and methods. He explained the need of compliance to the staff and worked with the laboratory manager to involve Human Resource when the staff did not comply. Dr Naidoo drove the process and helped staff to use the new tool to ensure equipment was verified and fit for use in the laboratory.

The laboratory was the first among NHLS laboratories to be awarded five stars by ASLM. Subsequent to the ASLM audit, the laboratory was accredited by the South African National Accreditation System (SANAS) in 2015.