THE ECHO has launched a campaign to keep blood testing services in south Essex.

There has been huge reaction to the news that the analysis of GP requested blood samples is moving 88miles away to Bedford.

Patients and doctors and even a hospital consultant are shocked and angered by the move.

They believe that the service currently at Basildon and Southend hospitals is doing well with results back sometimes as quickly as one hour.

The new journey involves taking hundreds of blood samples to Harlow then on to Bedford via the heavily congested M25.

The response for results to GPs is likely to be days instead of hours. Health bosses at the East of England SHA claim ‘pathology proposals will result in world class services across the East of England’ - clearly the public disagrees.

To this end the Echo is launching an e-petition and campaign to get the health authority NHS Midlands and East of England to change its mind before contracts are signed.

Southend Council leader Nigel Holdcroft is supporting the campaign.

He said: “I strongly support this campaign. I’d would be very concerned at any move which will have an adverse effect on this very important service. It should be allocated to where the best service can be provided rather than simply the most cost effective. I and I’m sure everyone else is opposed to this.”

Tony Ball, Leader of Basildon Council, said: “I would strongly support the opposition to moving any facility out of the area that may cause adverse affects on patients health and treatment. I would give my utmost support to the Echo’s campaign to keep blood testing in the local vicinity.”

John Gibson is chairman of the Advanced Surgical Equipment Trust which raises funds and lends specialist equipment to Southend Hospital. He said: “I’m delighted the Echo has taken this on board and is bringing it to public notice which is imperative. If people don’t make their views known it goes by default and the deed is done. This is lunatic by any standard.”

Other politicans backing the Echo include regular blood test attendee Graham Longley, who is leader of the Lib Dem group. He said; “I have regular blood tests to check my blood pressure, have done for around 20 years and have never had a problem.

“I think the service should stay local and back the campaign for that. When we develop new surgeries and clinics it’s a shame the outcome can’t be dealt with locally. People tend to have more confidence in local services.

“Any job losses would be my big concern. I don’t mind waiting an extra day for results but leaving staff who are highly qualified analysers out of work is a sad thing.”

Martin Terry leader of the Independent group at Southend added: “I’m totally opposed to these changes. However you dress it up this is about saving money and its wrong.”

As the changes are Government led MPs were more reluctant to fully back the campaign.

James Duddridge, Conservative MP for Rochford and Southend East, said: “This is an issue I am actively engaged in, and I will be talking to those involved to discuss the way forward.

“It is obviously a matter which could concern the public, so I will be listening carefully to ensure all views are heard.”Vote in our online poll at or once our online e-petition is up and running sign up there.