MORE than one hundred hospital consultants have thrown their professional weight behind the Echo’s campaign to save our local blood service.

A total of 115 consultants have written an open letter to Jeremy Hunt the Secretary of State for Health - taking the matter to the highest point in Government.

The Echo is campaigning to keep pathology services local to Southend and Basildon and fighting proposals by NHS Midlands and East to move it to Bedford Hospital from April.

The move has been described as madness from across the medical and local community with more than 4,700 signing our e-petition and hundreds more sending in paper petitions.

The medics represent retired and current consultants across many fields and departments including haematologists, microbiologists, surgeons and oncologists.

All signatories are happy to be identified to demonstrate the depth of feeling against the move across all specialities at the hospital .

In their letter the doctors said: “We call for a pause to allow wider consultation and scrutiny of the process.”

The letter has also been sent to local MPs Mark Francois, James Duddridge, David Amess and Rebecca Harris.

All the doctors recognise the need to make savings in the NHS but they believe it has been made purely on financial grounds.

They add: “We believe this move may have serious implications for patient safety. This includes delays to GPs receiving unexpectedly abnormal blood results, and risks of erroneous results due to degradation of blood samples with transport delays.”

It also says how ‘dismayed’ they are at the lack of consultation with health professionals and patients.

Peggy Tomlins, one of the many patients who have backed our campaign, was delighted to hear about the boost to the campaign.

Mrs Tomlins, 63, of Rayleigh Downs Road, Rayleigh was diagnosed with leukaemia after a routine blood test was turned around. Within a few hours she received lifesaving blood transfusions and treatment thanks to the staff at Southend Hospital.

She said: “I’m sure this can only help. I hope this letter and such brilliant support from so many consultants will cause the MPs to get involved and force a rethink.”

Tony Hopper, chairman of the Southend patient group LINK, said: “It’s a crazy situation to suggest moving the service. We have such a good service in Southend as it is. This extra support is welcome news.”

Sign the petition here