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Bedford blood test firm fiddled data
7:20am Thursday 14th March 2013 in Echo News
A PRIVATE firm, lined up to test Essex patients’ blood under controversial plans, fiddled its data to meet NHS targets.
A Government watchdog has revealed Serco, a parent company of GSTS, made unauthorised alterations to its figures on more than 250 occasions last year.
GSTS, a joint venture between Serco and King’s College and St Thomas’s hospitals, is responsible for the pathology services at Bedford Hospital - the future destination for all non-urgent blood tests in Essex if unpopular cost-cutting plans get the go-ahead.
The scheme has drawn unprecedented opposition from GPs, hospital consultants, patients and Echo readers, who have backed our campaign to keep blood testing local.
Now the National Audit Office’s investigation has shown Serco staff falsified performance statistics in 2012 to ensure they met Government targets while running the out-of-hours GP service in Cornwall.
The watchdog also found the firm regularly had insufficient staff to fill all clinical shifts in the same county.
The revelations follow earlier doubts about Serco’s performance raised by councillors in Southend, and an Echo investigation last month which discovered GSTS was not even authorised to manage blood tests in Bedford.
Ian Gilbert, Labour leader in Southend, said the latest findings represented the final straw.
He said: “How on earth can we trust our blood testing to a company that the National Audit Office has accused of fiddling figures?
“This is the latest in a long list of reasons why we should not move our blood testing to Bedford.”
A practising GP in the town, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, added: “It just shows how flawed the whole plan is.
“Privatisation of this nature will be the death of the NHS.
“These companies are primarily concerned about their bottom line, not the welfare of their patients.”