Health centre team apologise after patients forced to wait more than two hours for blood tests

The new Sudbury Community Health Centre

The new Sudbury Community Health Centre - Credit: Archant

An NHS service has apologised to patients at Sudbury Health Centre who faced delays of two hours or more for blood testing.

The teething problems struck shortly after the centre opened on January 12, with a short staffed service struck by “unprecedented demand”.

The blood testing department is run by The Pathology Partnership, on behalf of the West Suffolk NHS Foundation. They have now made several changes in a bid to reduce delays.

Ruth Murphy, spokeswoman for the partnership, said: “We apologise to patients who have had long waits for their blood test at the Sudbury Health Centre.

“Following a successful recruitment drive, an additional phlebotomist has joined the two existing members of staff which should help to reduce waiting times.

“We are also staying open over lunchtime and are using agency and bank staff to fill gaps in the service.

“We will continue to make improvements to the service and have a number of options we are considering including introducing a booked appointments system.”

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She said the service was put under strain due to “unprecedented increase in demand for blood tests” coinciding with staff sickness and shortages.

At the same time, the transfer of blood testing from some GP practices to the Sudbury Health Centre also put up demand.

The centre was built to replace services provided by the now closed Walnuttree Hospital and St Leonard’s Hospital.

Chilton Parish councillor Peter Clifford spearheaded a campaign to ensure the centre was built. He is chair of the Sudbury hospital WATCH group.

“There are now three members of staff working in blood testing,” he said. “The problems were not down to the Sudbury Health Centre, blood testing services at GPs across the area had been stopped, meaning more people were coming to the health centre.

“It just happened to coincide with the opening of the centre. From March 3 blood testing clinics will return to Great Cornard, Lavenham and Glemsford, this will help reduce demand and waiting times.

“If possible, if people try and go for tests towards the end of the week, that would also help. The start of the week is the peak period.”

He stressed that the delays were down to a number of issues coming together, including an “unexplained” jump in demand.

“West Suffolk Hospital also suffered at the same time, I heard they had up to three hour delays.” he said.