Union calls for public consultation over Lancashire blood 'super lab'

Calls have been made for a public consultation over plans for a super-lab blood sample centre in Lancashire.

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 3:45 pm

An England-wide NHS policy has ordered the creation of a series of pathology networks across the country, which could save £11m per year.

While non-urgent outpatient tests would be carried out at the central unit, under the so-called “hub and spoke” model, each hospital in the region would retain its existing pathology capacity for samples requiring urgent processing.

It had been suggested that the preferred site was at Leyland''s Lancashire Business Park, but there is now some suggestion it could be built in Samlesbury.

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A pathology lab

>>>Click here to read about the proposed location of the site and cost.

Unite the union, which represents 600 biomedical scientists who would be affected by changes, said the proposal will mean longer waiting times for patients to get their results and that “all dissenting voices had been shut out of the discussions”.

They are also critical of up to £3m spent on staff to manage the proposed new centre, but “absolutely nothing was happening”.

Unite regional officer Keith Hutson said: “What we have here is the biggest shake-up of pathology services in the region for decades and it is being slipped through under the radar without proper public scrutiny and without consultation with the NHS professionals who would have to implement these changes.”

He added: “Because of the extra distances the samples would have to travel, it will mean longer waiting times for anxious patients to receive the results of their blood samples – and that can’t be right.

Unite are also concerned that the centralisation plans are a movement towards privatising the service.

NHS Midlands and Lancashire Commissioning Support Group, running the project, have been contacted for a comment.

In October, Mark Hindle, managing director for the project said: “Transforming pathology services across Lancashire and South Cumbria is an exciting opportunity for our area, working in partnership with NHS trusts, to ensure that our pathology services remain at the forefront of diagnostics to the benefit of all staff, clinicians and patients.”

He has also stated that there is a “commitment to ensure all staff will be employed in the NHS”.