Steps taken to cut queues for blood tests at Sudbury health centre

The Sudbury Health Centre

The Sudbury Health Centre - Credit: Gregg Brown

Steps have been taken to alleviate problems at a newly opened £10million health centre, which saw some patients waiting for up to two hours for blood tests during the first few days.

Staff at Sudbury Community Health Centre, which opened fully on January 12, admitted they had been overwhelmed with demand for testing.

At one stage there were 70 people in the queue. With only two staff members taking blood, many expressed concerns that the facility, which replaced Walnuttree and St Leonard’s hospitals, Acton Lane Clinic and the Siam GP surgery, did not have the capacity to deal with the volume of patients coming through its doors.

Visitors also experienced problems in the car park, which it later emerged had been caused by a road sweeper hitting a lamp post.

Peter Clifford, acting chairman of Sudbury Hospital Watch, who helped lead the campaign to secure the state-of-the-art facility for the town, described the two-hour waits experienced by patients as “not acceptable”.

But he said the problems were addressed as quickly as possible, with the installation of a better ticketing and electronic board numbering system and a third phlebotomist from January 15.

According to Mr Clifford, waiting times have now fallen. He said: “The NHS is not quite sure at this stage why requests are currently so high. (At the same time) West Suffolk Hospital’s phlebotomy department was also ‘standing room only’.

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“Part of the problem may be that some GP surgeries in outlying villages have stopped taking their own blood samples and are now referring patients to Sudbury or Bury St Edmunds.

“All other services, including out-patients and Siam Surgery, seem to be running normally and without problems.”

Isabel Cockayne, head of communications at NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group said the opening days had been “challenging and busy” as expected following a major transfer of services from three areas of the town into one building.

Anyone with queries about the health centre or its services can call the general reception on 01787 886300.