High pressure in Great Dunmow blood tests battle

PUBLISHED: 11:51 11 September 2014 | UPDATED: 11:51 11 September 2014

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Health bosses are under mounting pressure from councillors to provide blood test facilities at GP surgeries in Great Dunmow.

There are no provisions for ­phlebotomy services at Angel Lane surgery and John Tasker House unless a patient is deemed too frail to travel for blood tests.

As a result, patients are required to further travel to community ­hospitals in Bishop’s Stortford or Braintree.

Officials from both Uttlesford District Council and their Dunmow counterparts agree the lack of ­phlebotomy services in the town is a growing concern.

Uttlesford cabinet member for communities and partnership, Councillor Vic Ranger, believes ­residents should not be forced to travel significant distances for such a basic procedure.

“The blood should travel, not people,” said Mr Ranger, who is ­planning on investigating the procurement of blood testing ­facilities in the town.

The issue of transport to the Herts & Essex Community Hospital, in Bishop’s Stortford, has been ­highlighted by Jonathon Cadwallader, Mayor of Great Dunmow.

He believes that forcing patients without a car to tackle the convoluted public transport network is a further barrier to receiving timely ­healthcare.

He said: “The very limited bus service does not take [patients] directly to the hospital and often the people that require blood tests are elderly.”

Bosses at the West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, which is tasked with ‘buying’ healthcare ­services for Uttlesford, hinted that the possibility of operating blood testing services in Dunmow ­surgeries would be looked at.

Josephine Smit, head of primary care development at West Essex CCG, said: “John Tasker House and Angel Lane Surgery both provide a limited service and we are looking at how we can develop blood testing services further.

“This may include increased provision at GP surgeries or community clinics.”

Some campaigners and activists have also called for housebuilders to contribute to developing the already stretched healthcare services in the town.

According to the Dunmow Neighbourhood Plan, developers have already been granted planning permission to build 2,420 houses in the area, which includes sites listed in Uttlesford District Council’s previous Local Plan in 2005.

Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Saffron Walden, Mike Hibbs, believes Uttlesford should force property developers to cough up for healthcare services.

“Local doctor’s surgeries are already under pressure, and this is only going to get worse as the ­population grows.

“Astonishingly, Uttlesford do not ask for a contribution to health facilities from developments of less than 50 houses.

“I would have expected the ­cabinet to have been campaigning for the NHS to make better ­provision for health services,” said Mr Hibbs.

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