Southend Hospital governor backs blood test campaign

A HOSPITAL governor believes moving blood tests more than 90 miles away “could cost lives”.

Ted Lewin, who also sits on the board of trustees at Southend Hospital, had backed the Echo’s campaign to keep blood testing services local.

We revealed last year that NHS Midlands and East, the regional health authority, had named Bedford Hospital as its preferred choice for carrying out the testing in the future.

At the moment, the service is provided by hospital staff in Basildon and Southend.

Nearly 3,000 people have backed the Echo campaign online and more than 1,200 have signed our e-petition.

Mr Lewin, who is also a Southend councillor, said: “I think this is a desperately worrying situation, and I can see it costing lives.

“I am a public govenor at the hospital and I may well get in trouble for saying this, but I don’t care.

“It is vital that our blood tests remain local and it is with great pleasure that I add my name to the Echo’s campaign.”

Five hospitals, including Basildon and Southend, were invited to bid for the right to host the blood testing service for tests requested by GPs.

However, health chiefs revealed Bedford was their front runner at the end of November because of the potential cost cuts on offer.

Bosses insisted the proposed move would not affect patients, but that claim has since been attacked by GPs, hospital consultants and political leaders.

We launched our campaign in December and it has been flooded with support from residents desperate to see their blood tests remain in south Essex.

Mr Lewin said: “It is appalling to think of the service being transferred to Bedford.

“There can be no benefit to patients and there is the troubling thought of delays and other issues causing problems.

“It should not happen.”

To sign our e-petition, visit http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/43260

Comments (9)

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9:38am Fri 4 Jan 13

Bloodtestguy says...

Blood samples start to deteriorate immediately after being taken. So to get the best results they need to be tested as soon as possible. The Harlow stop is designed to stabilise some of the samples so that their processing can be delayed beyond 4 hours. However not all of the blood samples can be stabilised and therefore results will be affected.
Whilst it is possible to transport samples to Bedford in a matter of a couple of hours when the weather and traffic are ok what will happen when this is not the case? The Fairglen interchange on the A127 floods regularly and the last time it did it was taking over an hour to get into Rayleigh from Rawreth Lane. We do occasionally get snow which slows down all road traffic, what are the plans then? Helicopters??
Blood samples start to deteriorate immediately after being taken. So to get the best results they need to be tested as soon as possible. The Harlow stop is designed to stabilise some of the samples so that their processing can be delayed beyond 4 hours. However not all of the blood samples can be stabilised and therefore results will be affected. Whilst it is possible to transport samples to Bedford in a matter of a couple of hours when the weather and traffic are ok what will happen when this is not the case? The Fairglen interchange on the A127 floods regularly and the last time it did it was taking over an hour to get into Rayleigh from Rawreth Lane. We do occasionally get snow which slows down all road traffic, what are the plans then? Helicopters?? Bloodtestguy
  • Score: 0

10:14am Sat 5 Jan 13

Judge Fish says...

The move, should it occur, will cost lives. You are relocating a service that is at the bedrock of patient care, several miles away. In doing so, not only are you risking delays in the return of results, and an increase in missing or corrupted samples; you are also delegating your direct influence over lab policy, and the quality and accountability of staff. The technicians at Bedford will have no connection with either Southend Hospital or the Southend area. It will all be abstract to them.

I've worked in healthcare for many years and the day that I start regarding patients as columns of numbers, as to opposed to human beings, will be the day that I start looking for another job.

Even if the lab does move to Bedford, the hospital would have to maintain some kind of pathology service on site. It would be utter madness for patients in A&E or on the wards to wait hours for results..

I fear that this is indicative of the way the NHS is being steered at present. Increasingly we will begin to see essential services being contracted out to companies, some of whom may have tenuous connections with healthcare provision. I predict that many of these companies, who are inexperienced in this sector, will struggle to turn a meaningful profit and will subsequently tweak or cut services.
The move, should it occur, will cost lives. You are relocating a service that is at the bedrock of patient care, several miles away. In doing so, not only are you risking delays in the return of results, and an increase in missing or corrupted samples; you are also delegating your direct influence over lab policy, and the quality and accountability of staff. The technicians at Bedford will have no connection with either Southend Hospital or the Southend area. It will all be abstract to them. I've worked in healthcare for many years and the day that I start regarding patients as columns of numbers, as to opposed to human beings, will be the day that I start looking for another job. Even if the lab does move to Bedford, the hospital would have to maintain some kind of pathology service on site. It would be utter madness for patients in A&E or on the wards to wait hours for results.. I fear that this is indicative of the way the NHS is being steered at present. Increasingly we will begin to see essential services being contracted out to companies, some of whom may have tenuous connections with healthcare provision. I predict that many of these companies, who are inexperienced in this sector, will struggle to turn a meaningful profit and will subsequently tweak or cut services. Judge Fish
  • Score: 0

7:02pm Sat 5 Jan 13

codslim says...

I was a Consultant Pathologist at Southend Hospital for over twenty five years until my retirement a few years ago. In addition, for eight years I was Clinical Director of Pathology Services. In my experience it is not rare to hear of schemes for amalgamating or centralising various hospital services. In the 1980s we successfully fought a difficult campaign to remove our excellent cancer services to a central site near Harold Wood. There was more than one occasion when serious consideration was given to centralising certain pathology services although these ideas were finally shelved when the full implication of such action was considered.
It would appear that this old chestnut has reared its ugly, illogical head once again. No doubt this is being proposed as a means of increasing the service efficiency when in fact it smacks of yet one further example of a cost-cutting exercise; one that threatens to dismantle a well-established, highly efficient, essential local acute service replacing it with a depersonalised, untried service at some considerable distance from the hospital.
Southend is one of this country’s major cancer centres and as such, in my experienced opinion, will suffer greatly by the implementation of this proposed new service at a distance. Unless you have been actively involved in this type of work you may not be aware of the importance of having a comprehensive, consultant-led pathology service on site where at a moment’s notice the cancer specialist can seek the support and advice of his pathology colleague and their department in the clinic, on the ward or even in the operating theatre.
In order to maintain any form of acute services such as an A&E department, orthopaedics, surgery, an obstetric department, cancer centre etc you will require a fully integrated 24 hrs/day 7 days/week ‘hot lab’ blood service for essential support, including blood tests, clotting analysis and blood transfusion. At the moment this service is incorporated in the routine day-to-day service provided by the local laboratories and is manned and maintained by the same technical staff. I cannot believe the authorities have realised the true cost to them of running this effectively belt-and-braces service in order to maintain the same high standards of care.
Furthermore, experience teaches us that when we have a hot lab on site and a routine service at a distance the incidence of ‘abuses’ of the hot lab service will increase with yet further pressure and cost on the system. The road system in Essex is abysmal and is not likely to improve greatly over the coming years. A single accident blocking the road, two inches of rain or one night of snow is all that is required to seriously jeopardise the service for some hours at least, and at such times I believe our users will not trust the ‘routine’ service and will yet again inundate the ‘hot lab’ service.
I would have thought that removing from site one of the essential engine rooms of our hospital system could seriously weaken our case for recognition as a Teaching Hospital and could well jeopardise our ability to fulfil the fundamental requirements for recognition as a Cancer Centre.
As one of those responsible for helping built the current local service I feel passionately that the new proposals if instigated could well spell the beginning of the end for our magnificent local hospital service with a slow but steady decline back to the days of the 1950s when we were little more than a good cottage hospital.
When I was working, one of the oft quoted aims of the Health Service was to produce a system whereby the patients would receive the majority of their hospital treatment locally, in properly equipped and staffed modern hospitals. Having come as far as we have at Southend Hospital over the past fifty years are we now heading back to where we were in the 1950s?
I was a Consultant Pathologist at Southend Hospital for over twenty five years until my retirement a few years ago. In addition, for eight years I was Clinical Director of Pathology Services. In my experience it is not rare to hear of schemes for amalgamating or centralising various hospital services. In the 1980s we successfully fought a difficult campaign to remove our excellent cancer services to a central site near Harold Wood. There was more than one occasion when serious consideration was given to centralising certain pathology services although these ideas were finally shelved when the full implication of such action was considered. It would appear that this old chestnut has reared its ugly, illogical head once again. No doubt this is being proposed as a means of increasing the service efficiency when in fact it smacks of yet one further example of a cost-cutting exercise; one that threatens to dismantle a well-established, highly efficient, essential local acute service replacing it with a depersonalised, untried service at some considerable distance from the hospital. Southend is one of this country’s major cancer centres and as such, in my experienced opinion, will suffer greatly by the implementation of this proposed new service at a distance. Unless you have been actively involved in this type of work you may not be aware of the importance of having a comprehensive, consultant-led pathology service on site where at a moment’s notice the cancer specialist can seek the support and advice of his pathology colleague and their department in the clinic, on the ward or even in the operating theatre. In order to maintain any form of acute services such as an A&E department, orthopaedics, surgery, an obstetric department, cancer centre etc you will require a fully integrated 24 hrs/day 7 days/week ‘hot lab’ blood service for essential support, including blood tests, clotting analysis and blood transfusion. At the moment this service is incorporated in the routine day-to-day service provided by the local laboratories and is manned and maintained by the same technical staff. I cannot believe the authorities have realised the true cost to them of running this effectively belt-and-braces service in order to maintain the same high standards of care. Furthermore, experience teaches us that when we have a hot lab on site and a routine service at a distance the incidence of ‘abuses’ of the hot lab service will increase with yet further pressure and cost on the system. The road system in Essex is abysmal and is not likely to improve greatly over the coming years. A single accident blocking the road, two inches of rain or one night of snow is all that is required to seriously jeopardise the service for some hours at least, and at such times I believe our users will not trust the ‘routine’ service and will yet again inundate the ‘hot lab’ service. I would have thought that removing from site one of the essential engine rooms of our hospital system could seriously weaken our case for recognition as a Teaching Hospital and could well jeopardise our ability to fulfil the fundamental requirements for recognition as a Cancer Centre. As one of those responsible for helping built the current local service I feel passionately that the new proposals if instigated could well spell the beginning of the end for our magnificent local hospital service with a slow but steady decline back to the days of the 1950s when we were little more than a good cottage hospital. When I was working, one of the oft quoted aims of the Health Service was to produce a system whereby the patients would receive the majority of their hospital treatment locally, in properly equipped and staffed modern hospitals. Having come as far as we have at Southend Hospital over the past fifty years are we now heading back to where we were in the 1950s? codslim
  • Score: 0

10:23pm Sat 5 Jan 13

TheStraightTalker says...

well said above I couldn't agree more this move will cost lives and also cost the taxpayer a lot of money,what a waste all that investment in Southend hospital wasted......
well said above I couldn't agree more this move will cost lives and also cost the taxpayer a lot of money,what a waste all that investment in Southend hospital wasted...... TheStraightTalker
  • Score: 0

11:43am Sun 6 Jan 13

Keptquiettillnow says...

Perhaps if the hospital wants to keep certain services in house, some of the highest paid members of staff need to take a pay cut to help finance this.
Perhaps if the hospital wants to keep certain services in house, some of the highest paid members of staff need to take a pay cut to help finance this. Keptquiettillnow
  • Score: 0

11:58am Sun 6 Jan 13

codslim says...

If only it was that easy. However, would Keptquiettillnow care to clarify which particular members of staff he/she is referring to?
If only it was that easy. However, would Keptquiettillnow care to clarify which particular members of staff he/she is referring to? codslim
  • Score: 0

12:15pm Sun 6 Jan 13

codslim says...

If only it was that easy. However, would Keptquiettillnow care to clarify which particular members of staff he/she is referring to?
If only it was that easy. However, would Keptquiettillnow care to clarify which particular members of staff he/she is referring to? codslim
  • Score: 0

12:53pm Sun 6 Jan 13

Keptquiettillnow says...

codslim wrote:
If only it was that easy. However, would Keptquiettillnow care to clarify which particular members of staff he/she is referring to?
Let us not forget, it was only a couple of years ago Hospital boss's where giving themselves £10-£15000 bonus, or profit sharing.
[quote][p][bold]codslim[/bold] wrote: If only it was that easy. However, would Keptquiettillnow care to clarify which particular members of staff he/she is referring to?[/p][/quote]Let us not forget, it was only a couple of years ago Hospital boss's where giving themselves £10-£15000 bonus, or profit sharing. Keptquiettillnow
  • Score: 0

3:22pm Sun 6 Jan 13

Judge Fish says...

Keptquiettillnow wrote:
Perhaps if the hospital wants to keep certain services in house, some of the highest paid members of staff need to take a pay cut to help finance this.
The hospital (by which I mean the senior management) seem rather keen to dispense with pathology. This most recent attempt to offload the service has been simmering in the background for a couple of years now.

Many of the staff who work in patient-facing positions within the Trust are quite justly concerned that this course of action, if followed, will delay results, diagnoses and essential treatment, as well as seriously impacting on the ability of the hospital to meet its duty of care. The consequences are potentially tragic.

Furthermore, the mooted savings may be offset by hidden costs as the Trust is forced to step in and plug gaps in the new service. There is already a precedent for this in previous cases where UK hospitals have delegated Pathology to third parties, and then been forced to bail out the new providers to the tune of millions of pounds.

This is a huge leap into the unknown. Anybody who thinks that Southend Hospital will be better as a result of such a move is, at best, hopelessly naive.

In the interests of demonstrating a lack of bias I should point out that I am not a member of the Pathology Department and am not arguing for my job. I am arguing in favour of a service that is essential to patient care. It should remain local and under the control and the supervision of the hospital.
[quote][p][bold]Keptquiettillnow[/bold] wrote: Perhaps if the hospital wants to keep certain services in house, some of the highest paid members of staff need to take a pay cut to help finance this.[/p][/quote]The hospital (by which I mean the senior management) seem rather keen to dispense with pathology. This most recent attempt to offload the service has been simmering in the background for a couple of years now. Many of the staff who work in patient-facing positions within the Trust are quite justly concerned that this course of action, if followed, will delay results, diagnoses and essential treatment, as well as seriously impacting on the ability of the hospital to meet its duty of care. The consequences are potentially tragic. Furthermore, the mooted savings may be offset by hidden costs as the Trust is forced to step in and plug gaps in the new service. There is already a precedent for this in previous cases where UK hospitals have delegated Pathology to third parties, and then been forced to bail out the new providers to the tune of millions of pounds. This is a huge leap into the unknown. Anybody who thinks that Southend Hospital will be better as a result of such a move is, at best, hopelessly naive. In the interests of demonstrating a lack of bias I should point out that I am not a member of the Pathology Department and am not arguing for my job. I am arguing in favour of a service that is essential to patient care. It should remain local and under the control and the supervision of the hospital. Judge Fish
  • Score: 0

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