4,000 join fight to save Doncaster drive thru blood test centre as closure nears
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Health chiefs are planning to close the centre at Doncaster’s Eco Power Stadium – which was initially set up during the Covid pandemic – on November 24, returning testing to Doncaster Royal Infirmary and in the community.
But patients, staff and MPs have all rallied against the closure, with a petition being set up and demanding it stay open.
One patient told the Free Press: “The drive through service was one of the most brilliant and practical ideas to come out of the Covid lockdown and since.
"It negated the need for people to attend their GP surgery or attend DRI and as a result curtailed the spread of Covid or any other infectious disease whilst attending for a blood test.
"The decision to close this service comes just as we are going into 'flu season' so patients will be taking cold and flu into hospital or their GP surgery putting essential staff at risk.
“For working people they can call in when they have a gap in their schedule which is not always possible with fixed appointments.
“For those patients with reduced mobility it reduces the strain of getting to a pre booked appointment on time and on a specific date if they're not well enough to attend.
"What on earth are the decision makers thinking of?
One member of staff, who asked not to be named said: “Patients are worried that the closure of the service will mean longer waiting times in diagnosing acute issues and also diagnosing more serious issues where a prompt diagnosis will affect the outlook for the patient.
“Patients feel that this is a backward step.”
Bosses announced the closure of the drive-through phlebotomy service, provided by NHS South Yorkshire Doncaster Place and delivered by staff at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals in September.
It will cease operations as of 5pm on Friday 24 November.
A spokesman said: “Going forward, services will be delivered at Doncaster Royal Infirmary as well as in the community.
“The inception of the service dates to the early months of 2020 and the unprecedented challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In response for the need, at that time, for safe, minimal contact medical services, the temporary drive-thru phlebotomy service was introduced, allowing patients to have their blood samples collected without entering hospital premises and as an alternative to community appointments.
“Hospital phlebotomy services will be consolidated within the Outpatients area of DRI – in addition to services at Bassetlaw and Montagu hospitals - whilst blood testing will continue to be delivered at GP practices.
“The change is part of a larger strategic, operational, and budgetary decision, and signals a return, largely, to business as usual for the local NHS, following the pandemic.
“Importantly, all GP practices in the borough have continued to provide blood test appointments throughout the pandemic for those patients who preferred, or otherwise needed to have this done closer to home.”
Dr Nabeel Alsindi, Medical Director for South Yorkshire Integrated Care System, said: “After three very successful years, the temporary phlebotomy service at the Eco-Power Stadium will cease operations, as we return to pre-pandemic arrangements.
“From Monday 28 November, local people continue to have the option of having their bloods taken closer to home at their GP practice, or instead at the hospital. We will be communicating with all colleagues concerned to ensure this transition is as seamless as possible for our patients.”
You can sign the petition to save the drive thru centre HERE