A PSYCHIATRIC nurse from Fordingbridge says she fears people will put off having routine blood tests now they have to travel to Salisbury for them - putting lives at risk.
Penny Campbell was appalled when her daughter Anna Reavell had to first get a form from Fordingbridge Surgery, then get to Salisbury and park, and wait around while urgent cases were dealt with, just to get a routine test that used to be done at the surgery.
The surgery says its funding has been cut and, unless patients are too frail to make the journey they will have to go to the district hospital.
But Mrs Campbell says anyone who does this would have to book half a day off at least, and possibly a whole day if they were going by bus.
She said: “I don’t know how much a blood test actually costs, but it seems to me that I, and probably others, would be willing to pay towards it to be able to have it done at our local surgery.
“It took Anna so long - and all for a little blood test that takes two minutes.”
She added: “It’s madness that you can’t just go to any hospital where you work and you have to go to Salisbury. If people work in Bournemouth or Poole they’re not going to want to go all the way up to Salisbury.
“When my daughter didn’t initially go she got a second letter reminding her - surely this all costs money too?”
Mrs Reavell, 44, who is a vet, said: “I put the appointment off as I had another hospital appointment and wanted to combine them to save time.
“It’s an hour’s round trip and I had to wait 45 minutes for the test. I’ve just phoned and my results are borderline so I might have to go again.
“You don’t know how long you’re going to have to wait - goodness knows what would happen if my husband had to have a test, as he works in Wimborne. He would have to take a morning off work."
The move to send patients to Salisbury came after a cut in funding from NHS West Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
Now the CCG are trying to find providers who can do blood tests locally. But the new service won’t start until at least next year.
Practice manager Michelle Raymond said: “Blood tests have increased annually, with no increase in resources.
“As a result of reduced general funding for general practice we cannot continue to fund the additional phlebotomy without cutting other services.
“It is unfortunate that patients who are mobile and not frail will have to travel to the local hospital for blood tests. We would prefer to have a local service and are working with Hampshire CCG to secure a local phlebotomy service.”
A NHS West Hampshire CCG spokesman said: “We are currently working on a substantial project to improve phlebotomy services across West Hampshire.
“Having already established a specification for the new service we are now actively seeking a new provider with the expectation that the service will commence at the beginning of 2015.”