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Temporary closure of City Care Centre service angers blood patient

Alex Merchant was not pleased to find the service closed. Photo: Ben Davis/Peterborough ET

Alex Merchant was not pleased to find the service closed. Photo: Ben Davis/Peterborough ET

A patient was left in a panic after discovering that blood-testing services at Peterborough’s multi-million pound City Care Centre had been suddenly withdrawn.

The phlebotomy services previously provided by the Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust at the care centre, in Thorpe Road, ended on Sunday.

Although the withdrawal was agreed six months ago, NHS Peterborough has yet to find a replacement provider for the service, with GPs told not to refer people to the centre for blood tests for the next two weeks.

This was news to Alex Merchant (51), of Lessingham, Orton Brimbles, who suffers from blood clots and is currently on a dose of the anti-coagulant warfarin.

She needs regular blood tests and was told to get one on Monday as her medicine dosage had changed two weeks ago, but ran into problems as she could not get an appointment with her GP soon enough.

Ms Merchant was one of 3,700 patients of Orton Medical Practice, which closed down at the end of last year as part of NHS Peterborough’s review of GP surgeries, and she had to register with Orton Bushfield Medical Practice.

Unable to make an appointment for the blood test, she went to the City Care Centre, only to find the phlebotomy service shut down.

She said: “The receptionist at the City Care Centre told me to go to the desk in the walk-in centre part of the building, where they informed me that they do not do blood tests and I needed to go through my GP.

“But my GP surgery recently closed and I could not get an appointment with my new one, which is why I went to the City Care Centre. I phoned the PCT but I was told it was not their fault the hospital withdrew the contract.

“They have been planning to close that place for a while yet nobody mentioned this to me and I’m sure many other patients have not been told either.”

The hospital trust said that the removal of the service from the care centre came because it was felt that blood-taking services should be done by primary care providers.

NHS Peterborough has advised that anyone struggling to get an appointment with their GP while the blood service is closed should contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) on 01733 758584.

Sarah Shuttlewood, director of acute services at NHS Peterborough, added: “For routine testing, patients should have a blood test at their GP surgery.

“However, some patients find that their registered practice is not always convenient to attend during the day and so the choice of attending at the City Care Centre has been available.

“We are working to have a suitable new provider for a phlebotomy service in place as soon as possible as an additional resource to support GPs in Peterborough.

“For a two-week period GPs have been asked not to refer to the City Care Centre for blood tests.”

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