Patients voice conerns over plans to close Stamford Hospital pathology lab

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CONCERN is growing over plans to shut the pathology lab at Stamford Hospital.

Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals Trust is considering closing the department and moving blood and urine analysis services to Peterborough City Hospital.

The trust is consulting with staff on the proposals, which could see 10 people lose their jobs, and has repeatedly insisted that patient-facing services will not be affected.

The busy phlebotomy service would be retained, so blood tests would still be taken at the hospital.

But some people are still worried about the impact of the closure.

They say services to patients will inevitably be affected and they fear the closure is just the latest cutback to hit the hospital.

Mike Dronfield, chairman of the Friends of Stamford Hospital, has outlined concerns that the loss of the pathology lab would lead to more services being taken away.

In a letter to the Mercury he said: “We are concerned that the loss of the lab will lead to further erosions in the services on offer and impede the development of any new services.

“There has in recent times been a considerable erosion of services at Stamford, each perhaps justifiable in isolation but together they may seriously undermine the hospital’s future.”

Mr Dronfield called on the trust to make clear its intentions for the hospital as a whole.

The Friends of Sheepmarket Surgery have also written to the Mercury saying the hospital needs to retain its pathology service to maintain services and cope with any proposed developments

Other readers also questioned the effect the loss of the lab would have on services such as blood iron reviews and tests during surgery.

But trust and hospital staff again moved to reassure patients that they would not be affected. Consultant haematologist Dr Kanchan Rege said: “There is no reason why the pathology service should look any different to patients if the laboratory is closed, as the popular and successful phlebotomy service is to be maintained.

“A frequent transport system for samples to Peterborough City Hospital will be continued and the results will be available electronically.

“Where results are needed immediately, as in a haematology clinic, a ‘point-of-care’ machine can be set up – a blood testing device which provides a good quality result within minutes.

“A fully validated result is available after being tested in the main laboratory later that day.”

Dr Rege said it would not make financial sense to run two labs when one could to the work of both without disrupting services. Closing the Stamford lab would also reduce the number of inspections the trust had to prepare for.

Regarding the future of the hospital as a whole, the trust’s interim chief executive Dr Peter Reading added: “We are in discussions with local GP colleagues regarding the future of Stamford Hospital, which is being developed through a clinical strategy for investing in services and improving facilities.

“We will very much welcome the views of local people on this future strategy once we have drawn his up with GPs and local commissioners.”

The trust’s consultation with staff about the proposed closure ends today. It is not known when the trust will announced its final decision on the plans.