A DOCTOR is so passionate about blood testing leaving Essex he has vowed to stand in front of a van taking samples elsewhere.

Westcliff GP Dr Marimuthu Velmurugan, known as Dr Vel, has joined an ever increasing number of health experts who are angry at the decision to move analysis of blood and other pathology samples to Bedford.

SIGN THE ECHO PETITION HERE http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/43260?ref=fetp

NHS Midlands and East have named Bedford and a consortium of other hospitals as its preferred choice after a bidding process which saw both Basildon and Southend hospitals lose out.

Dr Vel, who is also a Southend councillor, said: “This is most outrageous. It is action taken by a top down administration by any Tom, Dick and Harry at the SHA (strategic health authority) who haven’t got a clue.

“I’m definitely supporting the Echo’s campaign.

“If I have a patient who needs a blood test becuase I want to know if she has a blood clot rather than just flu or a bruise I want that done locally as it’s done within two hours and then I have results and can take action.

“I don’t want to see it being driven two hours away. I will stand in front of the van and they can run me over before I see any blood leave this town.”

Other GPs are also backing the campaign.

Dr Rana Sharma, Practice manager at Matching Green surgery, Basildon, said she was opposed to the plans.

”I think all GPs are opposed as it takes away a local service for patients. This process is far too lengthy. The doctors aren’t happy .“

Dr Haroon Siddique, of Southend Medical Centre, said: “We remain concerned as GPs but we do feel a bit more reassured that the CCG is reviewing and carefully examining the situation to make sure the planned move will be robust and safe for our patients.”

Dr Vel added: “There has been no consideration to people’s plight, this amounts to money. It has been done without consultation with GPs and is just not right.”

The ECHO is driving forward our campaign to keep blood testing local with the launch of a paper version of the petition.

We have listened to readers’ concerns about people with no access to the internet and not being able to add their support to the campaign which has attracted almost 2,000 online signatures.

The plan affects what health chiefs call non urgent pathology tests however some of the patients we’ve spoken to have had their lives saved by a fast turnaround of tests screened locally.

Barbara Williams, 73, was seen by her GP in Hockley after suffering with a stomach bug for several days.

She was asked to have a blood test to check for anything underlying. Her sample taken at 12pm was analysed that afternoon at Southend and by 6.30pm the doctor contacted her at home to go to hospital urgently.

Her husband Nick, 71, said: "The doctor rang us saying go straight to hospital he had the results and my wife needed urgent treatment. Her kidneys were failing."

Had the test been taken after the changes come in they would have been put in a van and driven up to Bedford. Mrs Williams made a full recovery.

Mr Williams, of Waxwell Road, Hullbridge, added: "It’s important people sign the petition. You never know when a test is urgent until its done and the results are back.”

The Echo’s online e-petition can be signed at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/43260