Protesters call for the reinstatement of blood clinics at Deal hospital.
Holding signs saying “bring back local blood tests now” and “they didn’t ask us,” the activists had met at Deal Pier for the 10 am rally on Saturday.
The 150 strong crowd then crossed the High Street.
The protest was staged following the closure of the phlebotomy service at London Road Hospital, which was terminated at the end of October.
All blood tests must now be performed at the patient’s registered GP offices.
But there are fears that already stretched surgeries may not be able to cope with more appointments, which means longer wait times.
Tony Grist, an organizer of the rally, said: “Growing annoyance over the closure of the blood clinic at Deal Hospital has led the community to come together to hold a rally.
“There was no public consultation, in fact not all general surgeries received any information regarding the closure or sought advice.
“On average, 150 patients used the clinic every week, whether they were cancer patients, pregnant women, patients with mental disorders, patients with venous disorders, etc.
“Now, with the shutdown, patients have to book surgery, which is not so easy with Covid vaccines, flu shots, annual checkups, etc.
“You can also get to Buckland Hospital from Dover – a half-day round trip by public transport, or a cab ride with a round trip costing at least £ 45.
“Deal and the parishes represent 33,000 people. As our community grows rapidly, mainly with retirees, our services are dwindling.”
Mr Grist, who is a city councilor for Deal, added: “As the rally marched down the High Street, many traders and shoppers came out to see what was going on, then added their support by clapping their hands in agreement with the meeting director.
“This was the first part of an extended campaign for the recovery of the blood clinic.
Mr. Grist is also organizing a petition “demanding the restoration of this fundamental service to the community”.
Anne Matthews, who spoke at the rally, said: “I think the key issue is that the service was canceled without public consultation and did not think about the 150 patients on average each week who used the service. .
“The easiest way to solve this problem for patients and clinicians would have been to fund the services and stay in the hospital instead of giving money to every GP.
“General practitioners are now overwhelmed with long waiting lists for doctor and nurse appointments, including blood tests.
“It is unlikely that the additional staff will only do blood tests and therefore not become specialists.
“The closure of the unit increased the level of anxiety for everyone who used the service at Deal Hospital – the sick, the vulnerable, the elderly, the disabled, caregivers and young people.
“CCG’s mission statement is to treat people locally – we have a hospital but they are unable to even do blood tests. Ridiculous situation.”
Deal resident Marsha Horne attended the rally and said: “It was wonderful to see so many people attending the rally on Saturday, not only showing their support for the issue, but actively demonstrating their desire to restore service. used and valuable phlebotomy device at Deal Hospital. “
The hospital’s phlebotomy service was previously run by the Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust, but it ceased to operate last month.
Similar changes have taken place at Herne Bay.
After the rally, a spokesperson for the Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group said: “We do not believe there is a need to provide an additional phlebotomy as all GP practices in the region have sufficient capacity.”
Dover and Deal MP Natalie Elphicke recently met with the CEO of the Trust that runs the hospital to share her concerns about changes to the blood testing service and the future of the hospital.
Ms Elphicke said: “The move of blood tests from Victoria Hospital to GP surgeries has affected some residents.
“I had previously received assurances regarding funding and support from local GPs for this change, as well as confirmation that there was no need for anyone to travel outside of Deal for the blood tests requested by the doctors. generalists.
“I have written to general practitioners to check if they have any concerns about the new provisions.
“However, a number of people have told me of other concerns about the services at Deal Hospital.
“So I urged the health chiefs on their plans for Victoria Hospital. They told me that the hospital was vital for the services they were providing and that blood transferred to general surgeries was part of it. ‘a re-gig that has affected other parts of Kent as well.
“Victoria Hospital is a much appreciated community resource. I am happy to hear health officials rightly say that they see it as vital to their delivery of local health services.