Wednesday, February 8, 2023

‘Unacceptably’ long waits for blood tests in Thurrock

CHILDREN in Thurrock are waiting months for blood tests as NHS services struggle to cope, it has been revealed.

Councillors were told residents are struggling to access health services because of a shortage of GPs and one phlebotomy service had ceased operating, adding to long waits for blood tests.

Speaking at a meeting of the health and wellbeing board on Friday, Shane Ralph, Conservative councillor for Stanford East and Corringham Town, said the situation was “unacceptable”. He added: “At the moment we’ve got a severe problem with GPs with recruitment and how we get them to come here.

“For a child to get a blood test in Thurrock, it’s now February. That just seems unacceptable when they can go to Southend and get it the same day.”

Stephen Porter, from the Mid and South Essex Integrated Care Partnership, said work was being done to address the problem. He said: “We’ve got a meeting about phlebotomy before Christmas. I’ve had queries from members about the pause in phlebotomy services in South Ockendon and we are working to try and get those reinstated which should go some way to address that issue.

“If that’s what people are experiencing I would be concerned. If they are I will ask the commissioner of services to come up with a solution.”

Residents in the borough struggle with a postcode lottery, with some areas having half as many doctors than other areas.

Mr Porter said: “Thurrock is the second lowest in England per 100,000. We’ve got about 42. We need to try and encourage GPs to come and work in Thurrock. We’ve got a range of initiatives to try and improve access. They will include 31,000 new telephone lines across mid and south Essex. We’re doing a piece of work at the moment to see how that breaks down for Thurrock.

“In terms of access. There should be no wrong door for people when they need to see somebody. They should get the appropriate referral whether it’s through a nurse, a GP or somebody else. If somebody needs to see a doctor they should see a doctor quickly. The same day for urgent cases.
“We need to remove some of the barriers people face traditionally.”

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