May 25 2013 Latest news:
Safira Ali, Senior reporter
Monday, March 4, 2013
by Safira Ali
Fifty-seven jobs are under threat and the time for blood deliveries to hospitals may increase if the closure of an NHS centre goes ahead.
NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) has proposed closing its blood stock holding unit in Crescent Drive, Brentwood, because of budget cuts.
Instead blood will be held at a variety of venues across the south-east.
A decision was due to be made this month but board members have delayed it until May to review feedback from staff, donors and users.
If the closure does go ahead, NHSBT said consultations would be held with staff to find them work elsewhere.
Earlier this month Eric Pickles, MP for Brentwood and Ongar, met Dr Huw Williams, director of diagnostics and therapeutic services with NHSBT, to discuss the proposals.
He was told jobs would be at risk and the closure would mean the delivery time to hospitals would increase by between 16 and 30 minutes.
Blood from the centre is currently used by hospital patients at Broomfield and Basildon. If the closure goes ahead, blood will be stored at Colindale in north London, Tooting in south London and Cambridge.
Mr Pickles said: “I have laid down three criteria which I would expect NHSBT to consider as part of their proposal.
“Most important is that the supply of blood is promptly available to Queen’s, Basildon and Broomfield hospitals, and I remain to be convinced there are robust plans to be able to do that.
“I also need convincing that, given the strategic nature of Brentwood, in the event of gridlock on the M25, blood could get through in a timely way.
“Finally, if the plan does go through and jobs are lost in Brentwood, I would want to see the well qualified staff be redeployed elsewhere if they choose.”
NHSBT said the new proposal would cause little disruption for blood donors as the existing donor suite would move to an alternative site nearby.
NHSBT said it had an ongoing commitment to deliver savings for investment back into frontline NHS patient care.
It said it will work with hospitals that could be affected by the proposals to ensure that they continue to receive the same quality of service.