Durkan: Gransha Phlebotomy Hub closure a 'retrograde step'
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He described the hub – set up during the COVID-19 crisis – as a ‘godsend’ for local people.
The Foyle MLA said: “Since it was set up in 2020, as a response to the Covid Pandemic, this hub has been a real and rare success story in healthcare here.
“It has been a godsend to many people, particularly extremely vulnerable and immune-suppressed patients, making the taking of bloods swifter and safer.
"It has taken pressure off GP surgeries and the hospital itself and every medical professional I have spoken to on its planned closure is in agreement that this is a retrograde step – delays in phlebotomy will ultimately lead to delays in treatment and many of these patients, sadly, cannot afford any delay.”
He said he understood the Trust did not have the budget to pay for the continuation of the hub.
“The Trust is saying that their plan is to revert to the pathways that were in place pre-Covid but the whole landscape of healthcare has changed drastically since then.
"I sympathise with the Trust in regard to the fact that this service was being paid for by Covid funding from the Department of Health and that, with the removal of that funding, the money simply isn’t there to provide it any more.
“I have written to the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Health to emphasise the importance of continuing to fund services like this: ones that lead to better outcomes for patients and prove better value for money.
“This hub should be looked at as an exemplar and the model should be rolled out elsewhere, rather than rowed back on.”
A spokesperson for the Western Trust said: “The Western Trust was allocated funding to provide Phlebotomy Hubs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Two hubs were set up, the first was established in Gransha Park, Londonderry, in July 2020 and the second in Omagh, in February 2021.
“The Trust continued with these hubs after the pandemic as it rebuilt and restored services to pre-pandemic levels. As services returned to normal and to support the rebuild of outpatients the hubs continued to deliver services for patients requiring blood samples in a timely manner to ensure continuity of treatment and for monitoring of conditions and treatments.
“The hubs reduced footfall across the acute hospital sites and resulted in patients not having to attend the hospital unnecessarily.
“COVID funding has now ended and the Trust is no longer able to provide the Phlebotomy services at the hub locations. This change will commence at the end of July 2023. Both phlebotomy hubs will cease and we will return to pre-Covid working.
“Specifically, this means that all patients requiring these specific bloods will return to their pre-covid pathway.”
The local health authority said it was working to reset to the phlebotomy regime that operated prior to the global coronavirus pandemic.
The spokesperson continued: “All services are now working with relevant colleagues (including community colleagues) to ensure a streamlined transfer of patients back to their pre-covid pathways.”