Concern over plans to move Lancashire NHS lab services

Plans to move NHS lab services to LancasterPlans to move NHS lab services to Lancaster
Plans to move NHS lab services to Lancaster
Plans to move NHS lab services to Lancaster will put '˜dozens of jobs' at risk, a leading union claimed yesterday.

Unite said some biomedical scientists working in Preston, Blackpool and Morecambe Bay could face a round trip commute of up to 120 miles if they want to keep their jobs – and said the plans could result in a ‘loss of skills and expertise.’

Though some laboratory testing services would remain, blood tests, cancer screening, and tissue biopsies would be centralised at a new £30m site to be built at Lancaster University in four years’ time, initial plans passed earlier this month revealed.

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Andy Ford, regional officer at Unite, which represents around 200 scientists in the areas affected by the proposals, said: “These sort of high quality scientific jobs are not exactly plentiful in Blackpool, Barrow and Preston.

“We are all in favour of collaboration but not centralisation. The danger of centralisation is that many senior staff are in their fifties and may decide to just retire rather than relocate or commute, while the move would not be worthwhile for lower graded staff.

“The NHS could find itself with a shiny new building but no-one to work in it.”

Jean Wright, the region’s ‘pathology partnership’ boss, said the current way of working was ‘not sustainable’ because of staff shortages, rising costs, and ageing facilities.

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She added: “Last month, NHS Improvement wrote to all trusts in the country to confirm that all hospitals must work together to provide pathology services in a more collaborative and shared way. Our review is in line with these recommendations, and we are making good progress.”