Published: 05:00, 14 October 2021
| Updated: 09:50, 14 October 2021
Blood tests could be stopped altogether at Deal Hospital.
The move has prompted fears from patients that they will now have to wait longer for phlebotomy services, or travel further, at a cost to their time and purse.
Currently, the clinic at the hospital in London Road is run by the Kent Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, and GPs in town can send their patients there.
But the trust - which holds 'no contractual obligations for the service' - will stop running the clinics on October 30.
After then, it is planned that GP practices will do all blood tests, either in-house at their surgeries, or take on the clinic at the hospital.
But exactly what will happen is yet to be confirmed - with the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) saying the plan will be 'finalised before the end of the month'.
The CCG adds that the changes 'should not mean any significant disruption for patients'
But Marsha Horne, 67, fears it will mean longer waits for users.
The Deal resident said: "The GP surgeries already can't copy. If you ring for a blood test it can be two or three weeks. Especially since there has been a shortage of blood vials recently.
"But if they take away the clinic at the hospital too, there is no doubt in my mind it will create longer waiting times.
"All the people that use the hospital will have to go somewhere. It would be impossible for the GPs to take it on."
Mrs Horne said it might force some patients to go to Buckland hospital in Dover for a blood test, in order to avoid long waits at the GPs.
She said: "But Buckland is in a bad location for people who rely on trains and buses."
Mrs Horne has questioned why arrangements for the service to be taken over have not happened sooner: "So they're going to close the gate, and then look to re-open it afterwards?
"Why was this not investigated before they looked at closing it? There was no consultation, no discussions with patients."
'Why was this not investigated before they looked at closing it...'
People have also taken to social media to voice their concerns.
One person posted on Facebook: "Bloody hell. Deal hospital stopping doing blood tests so will have to go to Dover.
"What a waste of time that is for a two minute appointment.
"Won't be long before they close Deal hospital completely, so no more minor injuries, X-rays, scans or midwife appointments there for people.
"Considering how much busier Deal is nowadays with all the new housing etc we are gradually losing everything."
The trust is also withdrawing the blood service from Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital in Herne Bay. One doctor's surgery in Herne Bay says it will perform blood tests in house.
A spokesman for the NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group said: "Kent Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has historically delivered phlebotomy services (blood tests) at Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital, Herne Bay and Victoria Hospital, Deal which some GP practices have used for their patients.
"Blood tests are part of the routine care that all general practices provide; and patients will continue to have local access to blood tests when needed.
"NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group is working with local surgeries to deliver the service, either in the existing hospital sites or in their own practices.
"The plans will be finalised before the end of the month and should not mean any significant disruption for patients.
"If any patient who is currently sent by their GP to Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital, Herne Bay and Victoria Hospital, Deal for a blood test has any concerns about how this will affect them, they should contact their GP practice."
It has not been confirmed how many jobs will be lost.
A spokeswoman for Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust said: "Our teams in the Herne Bay and Deal phlebotomy service are valued colleagues within KCHFT and we are working with them to redeploy to areas across the trust where they can use their skills to add value to the services we provide."