Published: 14:02, 18 November 2021
| Updated: 15:19, 18 November 2021
A rally has been organised following 'mounting annoyance' over the closure of blood clinics at Deal hospital.
Residents will join together on Saturday to demonstrate the concerns after phlebotomy services were axed at the end of October.
Now, patients in need of a blood test have to book one at their registered GP surgery.
But the changes have prompted fears that people will have to wait longer and or travel further for a test.
Tony Grist has organised the rally. He said: "Mounting annoyance at the closure of the blood clinic at Deal hospital has led to the community joining together to hold a rally this Saturday at 10am.
"There wasn’t any public consultation, in fact all GP surgeries received no information regarding closure or asked opinions.
"On average 150 patients used the clinic weekly, from cancer patients, expectant mothers, mental health patients, patients with difficult veins etc.
"Now with the closure patients have to make a surgery booking, not so easy with Covid jabs, flu jabs, annual reviews etc.
"Alternatively travel to Buckland Hospital in Dover - a half day round trip on public transport, or a taxi journey with a round trip costing at least £45.
"Deal and the parishes make up 33,000 people. As our community rapidly grows, mainly with retirees, so our services diminish."
Mr Grist, who is a town councillor for Deal, is hoping for a 'sizeable turn out' at the protest.
Marsha Horne, who has previously spoken out about the unexpected closure of the service, added: "I hope it brings the issue to the attention of those who still may not be aware and that it lets the powers-that-be know how angry the people of Deal, Walmer and the surrounding villages are at the undisclosed closure of this much-used, much valued and much needed service.
"Especially in the midst of a pandemic, when our GP surgeries are already struggling."
The phlebotomy service at Deal hospital, in London Road, was previously run by Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust, but it stopped operating the service last month.
Similar changes happened in Herne Bay.
A spokesman from the Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group previously explained: “There are changes to where blood tests are carried out for some patients in Deal and Herne Bay.
“Blood tests are part of routine care that all general practices provide and patients will continue to have local access to blood tests when needed.
“Historically, Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust provided blood tests at the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital in Herne Bay and Victoria Hospital in Deal, which some GP practices have used for their patients.
“This service will cease at the end of October 2021 but all the relevant GP practices in Herne Bay and Deal now have arrangements in place to provide these blood tests.”
MP for Dover and Deal, Natalie Elphicke, recently met with the chief executive of the Trust which runs the hospital to raise concerns about the changes to the blood testing service, and the future of the hospital.
Mrs Elphicke said: "The move of blood tests from Victoria Hospital to GP surgeries concerned some residents.
"I had already received assurances about funding and support for local GPs for this change, as well as confirmation that there is no need for anyone to travel outside of Deal for GP-requested blood tests.
"I have written to GPs to check if they have any concerns with the new arrangements.
"However, a number of people raised further concerns with me about services at Deal Hospital.
"So, I pressed health chiefs on their plans for Victoria Hospital. They told me the hospital is vital to the services they provide and that bloods moving to GP surgeries were part of a re-gig that has also affected other parts of Kent.
"Victoria Hospital is much loved community resource. I am glad to hear health bosses rightly say they see it as vital to their provision of local health services."
Attendees of the rally are meeting at the entrance to Deal Pier at 10am on Saturday.