Thurrock patients waiting up to eight weeks for blood tests

Thurrock residents are having to wait up to eight weeks for vital blood tests it has been revealed.

A motion put forward to Thurrock Council by Labour councillor Mark Hooper called on Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust to hold blood services provider Pathology First to account for its “failure” to provide an adequate service for residents.

At a council meeting on Wednesday, Cllr Hooper, representative for Stifford Clays, said: “This is entirely unacceptable so Thurrock Council call on Mid and South Essex Foundation Trust to take whatever action necessary to hold Pathology First to account for the failure of blood testing in Thurrock and provide a reasonable service.”

Councillors reported the “diabolical service” affects every ward in the borough. With sparse venues for phlebotomy services available in the borough, patients are being directed to Dartford and Queens Hospital, Romford outside the Thurrock integrated care board area. This, the council heard, is causing further “horrific delays” on blood results, some of which are time critical.

Aaron Green, Labour councillor for West Thurrock and South Stifford, said: “Blood tests are a vital tool for doctors to ensure patients are receiving the right treatment and any delay could cause unnecessary prolonged pain and their condition getting worse.

They need to be holding Pathology First to account for the poor service they are providing our residents.”

In response, David Walker, chief medical officer at Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We apologise for the delay in some patients receiving blood tests and we have been working closely with our two partners to increase capacity and ensure we can see more patients in Thurrock and the surrounding area.

“Over the course of 2023 we have opened two more clinics and we are already recruiting more phlebotomists to increase the number of appointments available in Thurrock.”

Synlab teamed up with the Mid and South Essex Hospital Trust in 2014 to form Pathology First, and perform millions of tests a year in the east of England. It provides services for Basildon and Southend hospitals and more than 200 GP practices.

Pathology First has been contacted for comment.

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter