Mark Reckless MP has called for the immediate postponement of the closure of the phlebotomy clinics at the Delce Healthy Living Centre in Rochester and Keystone Centre, Strood and is urging residents to sign the independent online petition created by local campaigner Brenda Towler.
Writing to the acting Chief Executive of Medway PCT, Helen Buckingham, on 28th February, Mark expressed his concerns that the closure of the clinics in Rochester and Strood would leave many elderly and frail residents being forced to make longer and more expensive journeys to the nearest alternative proposed clinics:
Dear Ms Buckingham,
I have been contacted by a number of constituents who are concerned about the imminent closure of the phlebotomy clinic held at the Delce Healthy Living Centre with little notice and no apparent consultation. I understand this follows an email sent to doctors and staff from Mr XXXXX XXXXXXX, XXX XX XXXXXXX at NHS Medway.
I would be grateful if you could confirm that the information I have been given is correct, and also advise me of what other phlebotomy clinics, if any, the PCT are planning on closing over the coming months here in Rochester and Strood. I understand the services at Keystones Centre in Strood may also be under threat.
Based on the information I have been provided with, I am concerned that such a move will result in many of my constituents being forced to make longer and more expensive journeys to Medway Hospital for a service that, to date, has been run successfully in association with local GP surgeries. Given government plans to hand authority for local healthcare commissioning to GP Consortia, I am somewhat surprised that this action is being taken at this time.
I am also concerned at the apparent lack of consultation on the proposed changes. Can you advise me as to how and when the PCT arrived at the decision to close these clinics, and what consultation and impact studies, if any, were undertaken?
Given the anxiety this is causing to my constituents and the relatively short notice period that has been given, I ask that the closures of these surgeries are postponed to allow for a proper review of the proposals.
I look forward to a response at your earliest convenience.
Mark Reckless MP
Member of Parliament for Rochester and Strood
In a response received today, Helen Buckingham has stated that:
Following recent discussions with local GPs in Rochester we are working with them to provide a GP led blood-testing service at Rochester Healthy Living Centre; we will be providing more information about this as soon as possible.
Despite this assurance from the acting Chief Executive of Medway PCT, Mark Reckless remains concerned that the reorganisation of phlebotomy services in Medway, particularly in Rochester and Strood, are being pushed through without full and proper consultation of current users of the service.
Medway PCT have stated that an additional £83,500 has been set aside by Medway NHS to improve the phlebotomy service in Medway which will result in additional 266 hours of availability across Medway each week.
However, based on currently published plans this does not translate into an improvement for users of the clinic at Delce Healthy Living Centre. Mark does not believe it is acceptable for residents to have to wait until June for the current plan to be reviewed whilst the plans, as they currently stand, leave a huge gap in the service here in Rochester and Strood.
Mark is urging residents to support the independent campaign set up by local campaigner Brenda Towler. Petitions are now available in many local stores and pharmacies. You can also sign the petition online by clicking here, or you can join the Facebook group here.