Health bosses move to reassure patients over blood tests

Lisa Cameron, whose five-year-old daughter Rhianna, pictured with sister Courtney and brother Kaiden, needs regular blood tests for her leukaemia

Lisa Cameron, whose five-year-old daughter Rhianna, pictured with sister Courtney and brother Kaiden, needs regular blood tests for her leukaemia

First published in Local News by

HEALTH bosses have reassured patients and doctors that south Essex blood samples will only be sent 88 miles for testing in Bedford if the standard of service is maintained.

Southend Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) will only agree the government-recommended plan if the scheme is “comparable” to the current service, in which Southend and Basildon hospitals test blood in-house.

The doctors group, which takes over responsibility for the borough’s heath in April, must also be satisfied the speed of results will be “adequate”.

Dr Paul Husselbee, accountable officer for Southend CCG, said: “A contract will not be signed unless we have total confidence and assurance that the new service is fully compliant with required quality standards, financial requirements and other conditions.”

The CCG’s board has agreed to the scheme in principle, but will only sign up if it receives assurances over the standard of the service.

It is waiting for reassurances contingency plans are in place for events like snow or traffic delays, that there will be no financial risk that could affect local health budgets and that all risks have been investigated and mitigated.

If the agreed quality and efficiency standards are not met after the contract is signed, the CCG will be able to withdraw from the service.

Doctors and a patient representative from Southend have been invited to take part in discussions and make sure all conditions are met before a final decision is made.

Katherine Kirk, chairman of NHS South Essex said: “As you can see from the above, there is a significant amount of detail and local assurance needed before our CCGs and PCT Cluster Board can agree to this contract being signed.

“We would like to reassure local residents that there are many notable service and clinical benefits arising from this proposed change in service.

“These include increased opening hours to meet faster the needs of clinicians and their patients, electronic tracking of samples, a rigorous monthly monitoring regime and financial savings.”

Anyone who wants to be involved with the decision making process should email southend.ccg@nhs.net or call 01702 314282.

Anyone with concerns can contact the patient advice and liaison service on 0800 587 9159 or by emailing see-pct.pals@nhs.net.

Comments (10)

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10:10am Fri 14 Dec 12

Brunning999 says...

This is doomed to failure, anything which removes local people serving local people is normally a nightmare.

Localism is great nationalism is a disaster.

The Post Office is heading that way.

The Police have nearly failed in their so called 'centralization' is a disaster with Policeman from Southend covering Clacton, Braintree etc and their centralization of the phone system is a farce if you phone you get thro to Chelmsford who then put you thro to an unanswered phone !!!!

These ideas are for one reason only SAVING MONEY!

They certainly do not improve anything.
This is doomed to failure, anything which removes local people serving local people is normally a nightmare. Localism is great nationalism is a disaster. The Post Office is heading that way. The Police have nearly failed in their so called 'centralization' is a disaster with Policeman from Southend covering Clacton, Braintree etc and their centralization of the phone system is a farce if you phone you get thro to Chelmsford who then put you thro to an unanswered phone !!!! These ideas are for one reason only SAVING MONEY! They certainly do not improve anything. Brunning999
  • Score: 0

10:53am Fri 14 Dec 12

jolllyboy says...

Local has to be best.

Bedford only has to have a problem (anything traffic, fire even) and the whole lot collapses.

You never, ever, put all your eggs in one basket - this is a receipe for disaster.We all know it and in the long run it does not save money and people's possible lives are at stake. this is not scaremongering but fact.
Local has to be best. Bedford only has to have a problem (anything traffic, fire even) and the whole lot collapses. You never, ever, put all your eggs in one basket - this is a receipe for disaster.We all know it and in the long run it does not save money and people's possible lives are at stake. this is not scaremongering but fact. jolllyboy
  • Score: 0

7:05pm Fri 14 Dec 12

andyh says...

"local has to be best"?
Possibly, but not necessarily.
Southend to Bedford is probably 90 minutes by bike courier or about 2 hours for a less urgent transfer (the results could be faxed - or, more likely, emailed. But that is not the whole story: perhaps Bedford is able to provide a 24/7 service while that would may not be a justifiable expense at Southend.
So the questions become:
1) What is the comparative median response time for an urgent test?
2) Is there any noticeable time difference for a routine test?
3) What are the relevant costs.

It is quite possible that the answers are
1) typically quicker from Bedford,
2) not significant,
3) a little less expensive on average for the Bedford service compared to single-shift operation at Southend; much less expensive compared to 3-shift.

If that is the case it looks good for Bedford. Are there alternatives in the more accessible areas of Cambridge or London?
"local has to be best"? Possibly, but not necessarily. Southend to Bedford is probably 90 minutes by bike courier or about 2 hours for a less urgent transfer (the results could be faxed - or, more likely, emailed. But that is not the whole story: perhaps Bedford is able to provide a 24/7 service while that would may not be a justifiable expense at Southend. So the questions become: 1) What is the comparative median response time for an urgent test? 2) Is there any noticeable time difference for a routine test? 3) What are the relevant costs. It is quite possible that the answers are 1) typically quicker from Bedford, 2) not significant, 3) a little less expensive on average for the Bedford service compared to single-shift operation at Southend; much less expensive compared to 3-shift. If that is the case it looks good for Bedford. Are there alternatives in the more accessible areas of Cambridge or London? andyh
  • Score: 0

7:59pm Fri 14 Dec 12

Max1981 says...

This is purely a cost cutting measure.

The logistics will be a nightmare, you will need to add several hours on to the current turnaround time. If samples are damaged or incorrect this will increase delays further and be a further nuisance for patients.

Obviously assurances are going to be provided by the proposed contractors. But how can they really guarantee the same quality and speed of service. In the meantime, many people are likely to lose their jobs. What a mess.

Southend has a reputation as an excellent hospital, lets celebrate this and not sell parts off.

As a local resident, if I have something wrong with me I want my samples to be looked at quickly. Not to be sitting on the M25 for hours.
This is purely a cost cutting measure. The logistics will be a nightmare, you will need to add several hours on to the current turnaround time. If samples are damaged or incorrect this will increase delays further and be a further nuisance for patients. Obviously assurances are going to be provided by the proposed contractors. But how can they really guarantee the same quality and speed of service. In the meantime, many people are likely to lose their jobs. What a mess. Southend has a reputation as an excellent hospital, lets celebrate this and not sell parts off. As a local resident, if I have something wrong with me I want my samples to be looked at quickly. Not to be sitting on the M25 for hours. Max1981
  • Score: 0

1:28pm Sat 15 Dec 12

Little John says...

andyh wrote:
"local has to be best"?
Possibly, but not necessarily.
Southend to Bedford is probably 90 minutes by bike courier or about 2 hours for a less urgent transfer (the results could be faxed - or, more likely, emailed. But that is not the whole story: perhaps Bedford is able to provide a 24/7 service while that would may not be a justifiable expense at Southend.
So the questions become:
1) What is the comparative median response time for an urgent test?
2) Is there any noticeable time difference for a routine test?
3) What are the relevant costs.

It is quite possible that the answers are
1) typically quicker from Bedford,
2) not significant,
3) a little less expensive on average for the Bedford service compared to single-shift operation at Southend; much less expensive compared to 3-shift.

If that is the case it looks good for Bedford. Are there alternatives in the more accessible areas of Cambridge or London?
Andy H

Having just been discharged from Southend Hospital I can tell you that I required blood tests through the night and the turnaround time was one hour as the testing was done in-house. About as long as it will take to get to Harlow for the first leg of journey to Bedford. Even if the samples were transferred immediately into another vehicle, there is still another hour at least to get to Bedford from Harlow. The blood testing dept at SH is a 24 hour operation. It needs to be for A&E patients coming in at all hours and for when a patient on a ward perhaps has a bad turn during the night resulting in need to test their blood to find out why. I had in total 4 blood tests over an eight hour period. I had a suspected stroke and it is vital, in the case of stokes and other conditions, that a diagnosis is reached ASAP so the correct medication is administered. Failure to receive the correct healthcare soon enough can result in death or life long debilitating effects for the patient.

Have you ever tried to get to Bedford on a day either the M25 or the M1 is shut or are experiencing delays? I have and it takes forever to get there.

I’m sure it will save money as it will cut down on the need for blood testing in Essex as the existing facilities in Bedford can be utilised. The folk of Bedford will notice no difference to their service. Meanwhile the folk of Essex will be put at risk and will receive a poorer service for their healthcare needs. No doubt about it.
[quote][p][bold]andyh[/bold] wrote: "local has to be best"? Possibly, but not necessarily. Southend to Bedford is probably 90 minutes by bike courier or about 2 hours for a less urgent transfer (the results could be faxed - or, more likely, emailed. But that is not the whole story: perhaps Bedford is able to provide a 24/7 service while that would may not be a justifiable expense at Southend. So the questions become: 1) What is the comparative median response time for an urgent test? 2) Is there any noticeable time difference for a routine test? 3) What are the relevant costs. It is quite possible that the answers are 1) typically quicker from Bedford, 2) not significant, 3) a little less expensive on average for the Bedford service compared to single-shift operation at Southend; much less expensive compared to 3-shift. If that is the case it looks good for Bedford. Are there alternatives in the more accessible areas of Cambridge or London?[/p][/quote]Andy H Having just been discharged from Southend Hospital I can tell you that I required blood tests through the night and the turnaround time was one hour as the testing was done in-house. About as long as it will take to get to Harlow for the first leg of journey to Bedford. Even if the samples were transferred immediately into another vehicle, there is still another hour at least to get to Bedford from Harlow. The blood testing dept at SH is a 24 hour operation. It needs to be for A&E patients coming in at all hours and for when a patient on a ward perhaps has a bad turn during the night resulting in need to test their blood to find out why. I had in total 4 blood tests over an eight hour period. I had a suspected stroke and it is vital, in the case of stokes and other conditions, that a diagnosis is reached ASAP so the correct medication is administered. Failure to receive the correct healthcare soon enough can result in death or life long debilitating effects for the patient. Have you ever tried to get to Bedford on a day either the M25 or the M1 is shut or are experiencing delays? I have and it takes forever to get there. I’m sure it will save money as it will cut down on the need for blood testing in Essex as the existing facilities in Bedford can be utilised. The folk of Bedford will notice no difference to their service. Meanwhile the folk of Essex will be put at risk and will receive a poorer service for their healthcare needs. No doubt about it. Little John
  • Score: 0

7:35pm Sat 15 Dec 12

andyh says...

Little John.

I wrote my posting to ask some questions and possible indicate that things may not be simple.
Since then I've done a bit of research.

As you say the blood department at Southend is 24/7 and there are cases (like blood transfusions) where results are required urgently. (I had been thinking of things like blood-sugar tests and chloresterol tests which are normally less urgent).

So, if the proposal is that all blood tests go to Bedford, it appears to be bl**dy stupid (pun intentional).
Furthermore, if some facilities need to remain local, that must bias the economics toward the majority of tests being local (it is possible that a "centre of excellence" may be more reliable for some specialised tests).

But why do you assume that if samples are sent to Bedford that they would go via Harlow and be transhipped - or that the best route to Bedford uses the M25 (hint for the second question, it doesn't!).
Also delays on a motorway have only minimal effect on bike couriers.
Little John. I wrote my posting to ask some questions and possible indicate that things may not be simple. Since then I've done a bit of research. As you say the blood department at Southend is 24/7 and there are cases (like blood transfusions) where results are required urgently. (I had been thinking of things like blood-sugar tests and chloresterol tests which are normally less urgent). So, if the proposal is that all blood tests go to Bedford, it appears to be bl**dy stupid (pun intentional). Furthermore, if some facilities need to remain local, that must bias the economics toward the majority of tests being local (it is possible that a "centre of excellence" may be more reliable for some specialised tests). But why do you assume that if samples are sent to Bedford that they would go via Harlow and be transhipped - or that the best route to Bedford uses the M25 (hint for the second question, it doesn't!). Also delays on a motorway have only minimal effect on bike couriers. andyh
  • Score: 0

11:06am Sun 16 Dec 12

Judge Fish says...

The hospital would have to maintain a skeletal pathology service to accommodate inpatient testing. Additionally there are some tests that require samples to be kept under certain conditions. A lengthy journey from Southend to Bedford would increase the possibility of these being compromised and any results flawed.

I wonder how the trust plans to manage the large number of patients on the drug Warfarin, who all require regular blood tests. The results, which must be returned within a narrow time frame, are used to determine the dosage of the drug over the following days. Ultimately this problem will resolved by the introduction of new forms of medication. In the meantime it only takes a traffic jam or some other mishap to throw everything out of kilter.

I find the reassurances of the trust, that it will be ale to withdraw from the new service if it doesn’t pass muster, to be somewhat disingenuous. As soon as the Pathology service relocates to Bedford the existing lab at Southend hospital will be dismantled and the staff (many of whom are experienced, long-term employees at the hospital with established working relationships) will be moved to other positions within the trust, or will be made redundant.

If it all goes wrong, or the new service deteriorates, there won't be anything to withdraw to. In this situation it seems unlikely that there will be the impetus or the financial wherewithal to put things back the way they were.
The hospital would have to maintain a skeletal pathology service to accommodate inpatient testing. Additionally there are some tests that require samples to be kept under certain conditions. A lengthy journey from Southend to Bedford would increase the possibility of these being compromised and any results flawed. I wonder how the trust plans to manage the large number of patients on the drug Warfarin, who all require regular blood tests. The results, which must be returned within a narrow time frame, are used to determine the dosage of the drug over the following days. Ultimately this problem will resolved by the introduction of new forms of medication. In the meantime it only takes a traffic jam or some other mishap to throw everything out of kilter. I find the reassurances of the trust, that it will be ale to withdraw from the new service if it doesn’t pass muster, to be somewhat disingenuous. As soon as the Pathology service relocates to Bedford the existing lab at Southend hospital will be dismantled and the staff (many of whom are experienced, long-term employees at the hospital with established working relationships) will be moved to other positions within the trust, or will be made redundant. If it all goes wrong, or the new service deteriorates, there won't be anything to withdraw to. In this situation it seems unlikely that there will be the impetus or the financial wherewithal to put things back the way they were. Judge Fish
  • Score: 0

2:00pm Sun 16 Dec 12

Little John says...

andyh wrote:
Little John.

I wrote my posting to ask some questions and possible indicate that things may not be simple.
Since then I've done a bit of research.

As you say the blood department at Southend is 24/7 and there are cases (like blood transfusions) where results are required urgently. (I had been thinking of things like blood-sugar tests and chloresterol tests which are normally less urgent).

So, if the proposal is that all blood tests go to Bedford, it appears to be bl**dy stupid (pun intentional).
Furthermore, if some facilities need to remain local, that must bias the economics toward the majority of tests being local (it is possible that a "centre of excellence" may be more reliable for some specialised tests).

But why do you assume that if samples are sent to Bedford that they would go via Harlow and be transhipped - or that the best route to Bedford uses the M25 (hint for the second question, it doesn't!).
Also delays on a motorway have only minimal effect on bike couriers.
The plan is for the blood samples to be taken to The Princess Alexandria Hospital first in Harlow. I’m guessing this is to be a muster area for the samples to come from the Basildon and probably Thurrock areas well. The samples are then to go to the lab in Bedford from Harlow. When you think about it, there are 12 phlebotomy clinics in the Southend area including Southend Hospital (where they are tested currently) that deal with blood tests every day. I’m guessing a little here, but I can’t see how a motorcycle rider is going to be able to fit the amount of samples that are produced by the clinics in a satchel or maybe a back pack. This has got to involve something like a transit van at least.

A route to use from Harlow to Bedford would be the A414 to get to the M1 or A1M but that goes through many major towns so the M25/M1or A1M would be favourite. As I’ve mentioned though, it doesn't matter what route is taken on a day the M1 or M25 is shut or have bad delays as all the other major roads in that area are rammed with vehicles trying to find alternative routes.
The majority of the samples will be routine samples from the blood testing clinics. If they take a day longer to get the results for, it probably really won’t matter in the great scheme of things. The problem I see is by taking our local testing away for good is that the emergency tests from life or death situations will be in the same van as the routine samples and on some days gridlocked and going nowhere in heavy traffic. To get to Bedford, the van will need to travel across nearly the whole of Essex, across Hertfordshire and then to the centre of Bedfordshire. Not an easy drive if even only one of the major routes is affected by delays.
[quote][p][bold]andyh[/bold] wrote: Little John. I wrote my posting to ask some questions and possible indicate that things may not be simple. Since then I've done a bit of research. As you say the blood department at Southend is 24/7 and there are cases (like blood transfusions) where results are required urgently. (I had been thinking of things like blood-sugar tests and chloresterol tests which are normally less urgent). So, if the proposal is that all blood tests go to Bedford, it appears to be bl**dy stupid (pun intentional). Furthermore, if some facilities need to remain local, that must bias the economics toward the majority of tests being local (it is possible that a "centre of excellence" may be more reliable for some specialised tests). But why do you assume that if samples are sent to Bedford that they would go via Harlow and be transhipped - or that the best route to Bedford uses the M25 (hint for the second question, it doesn't!). Also delays on a motorway have only minimal effect on bike couriers.[/p][/quote]The plan is for the blood samples to be taken to The Princess Alexandria Hospital first in Harlow. I’m guessing this is to be a muster area for the samples to come from the Basildon and probably Thurrock areas well. The samples are then to go to the lab in Bedford from Harlow. When you think about it, there are 12 phlebotomy clinics in the Southend area including Southend Hospital (where they are tested currently) that deal with blood tests every day. I’m guessing a little here, but I can’t see how a motorcycle rider is going to be able to fit the amount of samples that are produced by the clinics in a satchel or maybe a back pack. This has got to involve something like a transit van at least. A route to use from Harlow to Bedford would be the A414 to get to the M1 or A1M but that goes through many major towns so the M25/M1or A1M would be favourite. As I’ve mentioned though, it doesn't matter what route is taken on a day the M1 or M25 is shut or have bad delays as all the other major roads in that area are rammed with vehicles trying to find alternative routes. The majority of the samples will be routine samples from the blood testing clinics. If they take a day longer to get the results for, it probably really won’t matter in the great scheme of things. The problem I see is by taking our local testing away for good is that the emergency tests from life or death situations will be in the same van as the routine samples and on some days gridlocked and going nowhere in heavy traffic. To get to Bedford, the van will need to travel across nearly the whole of Essex, across Hertfordshire and then to the centre of Bedfordshire. Not an easy drive if even only one of the major routes is affected by delays. Little John
  • Score: 0

3:15pm Wed 19 Dec 12

healthlottery says...

People of Essex will suffer as a result, there lives effected by influences of the strategic board set up to course destruction for the pure gain of ongoing privitisation. This is pure political corruption that can only lead to disaster. These schemes actually cost more money to set up in the hope to save money later on only to realise mistakes done, in real turns this is destroying very good nhs services for privitisation. I agree with the above comments, i worry for my cancer relatives dependent on these services and for everyone else to that matter- just plain stupidity, why are we paying out for quango companies like these to make rediculous decisions
People of Essex will suffer as a result, there lives effected by influences of the strategic board set up to course destruction for the pure gain of ongoing privitisation. This is pure political corruption that can only lead to disaster. These schemes actually cost more money to set up in the hope to save money later on only to realise mistakes done, in real turns this is destroying very good nhs services for privitisation. I agree with the above comments, i worry for my cancer relatives dependent on these services and for everyone else to that matter- just plain stupidity, why are we paying out for quango companies like these to make rediculous decisions healthlottery
  • Score: 0

3:25pm Wed 19 Dec 12

healthlottery says...

If you think about it, whilst the aim is too reduce spenditure even though this will cause detrimental health affects, the cost per sample that remains at southend and basildon will go up (for inpatient work etc) whilst the cost per sample for the GP work will go down.

Now im no scientist ( im an accountant ) but there obviously postulating savings over long term but in actual effect there will no be real savings due to the fact that price per sample at local hospitals will be more expensive.

This can only have a knock on effect with the hospital, which will have a knock on effect with other services within the hospitals them selves.,

very worrying !!

certainly there are no brianiacs in the government - forcing these measures out !
If you think about it, whilst the aim is too reduce spenditure even though this will cause detrimental health affects, the cost per sample that remains at southend and basildon will go up (for inpatient work etc) whilst the cost per sample for the GP work will go down. Now im no scientist ( im an accountant ) but there obviously postulating savings over long term but in actual effect there will no be real savings due to the fact that price per sample at local hospitals will be more expensive. This can only have a knock on effect with the hospital, which will have a knock on effect with other services within the hospitals them selves., very worrying !! certainly there are no brianiacs in the government - forcing these measures out ! healthlottery
  • Score: 0

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