A CANCER survivor says her life was saved by the fast turnaround of a routine blood test by the people working in the pathology lab at Southend Hospital.

Yet these types of tests are from April being transferred to Bedford Hospital for screening under plans by NHS Midlands and East.

The Echo is running a  campaign against the proposal after being inundated by concerned patients, GPs and consultants.

Leukaemia survivor Peggy Tomlins, 63, described the pathologists as unsung heroes who work diligently so patients like her live to tell their tale.

Mrs Tomlins returned from a six week holiday to Menorca having been feeling unwell for several weeks.

She said: “I knew I wasn’t well, I was getting really breathless and struggled to get up stairs. I couldn’t walk far without sitting down. I had all these bruises come up on my leg and joked ‘I hope I haven’t got leukaemia’.

“I saw the doctor the day after we got back and because I was worried it was my heart I had an ECG which was fine.

“The doctor called me at home and asked me to get a routine blood test done so we went to Canvey for the test.

“Two hours later the doctor and hospital rang and told me to come to hospital Immediately.”

Her blood count was so dangerously low doctors were surprised she was able to walk.

Mrs Tomlins said: “They told me the devastating news I had leukaemia. I was so close to not being here. My blood count was just 3. That quick blood result saved my life. If not, if it had gone all the way to Bedford, I dread to think what would’ve happened.

“I was admitted straight away and had three blood transfusions then was transferred to Barts in London and stayed there for six months.”

She had intensive chemtherapy and took part in a clinical trial of a new drug but now three years on Mrs Tomlins, of Rayleigh Downs Road, Rayleigh, is still in remission and having regular checkups.

Her husband John, 73, said: “We fully support the Echo campaign. The blood travelled from Canvey to Southend Hospital, was processed and the results sent to the doctor and hospital all within two hours. What were the people thinking of when they came up with this crackpot idea to move it away? And who are they?

“We feel so sorry for the staff who may lose their jobs they did an amazing job for us.”

Sign our paper petition or go online to http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/43260 where more than 2,850 people have joined the campaign.