THE Duke of Kent will open a new state-of-the-art laboratory designed to speed up test results for patients across south Essex.

The Queen’s cousin will join hospital bosses to open a blood testing lab in Basildon on February 2.

The “Pathology First” unit, which will be based at Bentalls, Basildon, will conduct tests for GPs and outpatient clinics to diagnose diseases by examining organs, tissues and other bodily fluids.

It follows a successful Echo campaign in 2013 to keep blood testing in south Essex.

The new scheme is a joint venture between Basildon and Southend hospitals and Integrated Pathology Partnerships.

It aims to speed up the time patients receive blood test results.

Sue Hardy, chief executive at Southend Hospital, and Claire Panniker, chief executive of Basildon Hospital, said: “We look forward to the opening of the Pathology First hub laboratory which will provide efficient, safe and local pathology services for patients in south Essex.

“There has been a lot of hard work taking place over the last 18 months and I’m delighted that this new state-of-the-art facility will give staff access to some of the best equipment available for pathology testing and analysis.”

The ceremony is a landmark development in the safeguarding of south Essex blood testing.

The community pathology Service were named the preferred bidder to run analysis of blood, stools and other specimens in 2012.

It would have meant tests were carried out 90 miles away in Bedford.

But following an Echo campaign in 2013 it was unveiled the services would stay.