Shake-up for pathology services in Suffolk and Essex

Two Suffolk hospitals and one in Essex could lose most of their pathology services, which include blood analysis, in a health shake-up, doctors warn.

The NHS East of England (NHSEoE) wants to increase the use by Ipswich, West Suffolk and Colchester hospitals of facilities in Cambridge and Norwich.

The Suffolk branch of the British Medical Association said it was vital to have pathology experts on site.

But NHSEoE said the changes will improve the quality of the service.

'Improving quality'

Suffolk representative of the BMA Dr Janet Massey said doctors were concerned about the loss of pathology services, which involves the diagnosis of disease, for Ipswich and West Suffolk hospital and Colchester Hospital in Essex.

She said if the work went to facilities in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire it will "leave laboratories in Ipswich and West Suffolk without as much income as they would have [had]".

Dr Masse said local expertise would be lost if pathology services were cut, leaving no laboratory experts to back-up surgeons and consultants.

But Dr Hemel Desai, who is leading the project for NHSEoE, said the authority would ensure there was no harm to patient safety.

"Consolidating pathology services would have a demonstrable impact on improving the quality of those services," he said.

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