A PATHOLOGY service in Bedford which is set to take Southend and Basildon blood tests is run by a semi-private company, it has been revealed.

Bedford Hospital pathology service is run by GSTS, a joint venture between Guy’s, St Thomas hospitals and Kings College hospitals and Serco, a Footsie 100 listed company.

GSTS, which has its own chief executive, is billed as one of the largest independent pathology organisations in the UK, conducting more than seven million tests a year, including blood, microbiology and genetics.

The Echo is fighting a move to remove GP samples from Southend and Basildon hospitals and send them nearly 90miles away for screening.
Many fear the Government lead move to centralise such services is a bid to privatise NHS services by the back door

One long serving Southend consultant says he fears it is a sign of things to come.
John Mellor, a consultant at Southend Hospital for more than 25 years, said the move will lead to an irreparable loss of local expertise and will be followed by other services.

He said: “I think it is inevitable that more services will follow. There has been talk in the past of sending X-ray reporting to India. A private company did suggest bringing in Indian reporting of films but consultants said they wouldn’t use it.

“It could easily be done but I want to know who is reporting my films. You get to know the psychology of a person who is regularly reporting your films.”

Dr Mellor added: “If blood and other tests are moved from local hospitals they will become little more than cottage hospitals. If I got something serious I wouldn’t want to be treated there. I would make sure I was transferred to a London hospital.”

Speaking after the announcement GSTS was to run Bedford’s pathology services in 2009, Kevin Cox, then managing director of GSTS, said: “Pathology in the UK is undergoing a period of profound change as a result of the clinical advances and new technologies, and we believe this partnership will help embrace these changes and improve service to patients in Bedford and the surrounding region.”

Norman Traub, secretary of the Southend branch of the Keep Our NHS Public and a retired consultant haematologist, said: “This is designed to privatise and fragment the NHS and this is part of the whole process.

“The system we have works very well. It has been developed over decades and has dedicated lab staff and millions of pounds of equipment.
“They are going to replace a service which was the best for southend with an inferior service in order to privatise and fragment the NHS.

“In the end we will have a US system of insurance and the NHS will be run down and used only by those who can’t afford health insurance.”
Bedford Hospital was asked for a response but did not supply one.

An Echo e-petition to keep blood services local now has nearly 4,000 signatures.
You can sign here http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/43260?ref=fetp