A DEAL where Southend and Basildon hospitals hire a private company to run blood testing services was “inevitable”, according to a source.

The two trusts have announced a deal that pathology staff’s contracts would be transferred to the preferred bidder Integrated Pathology Partnerships, as long as there are no objections before the middle of next week.

Last year the hospitals campaigned alongside the Echo to stop the outsourcing of blood testing ordered by GPs to 90 miles away in Bedford.

The hospitals say they cannot currently answer any questions on the future of the service, which covers their in-house ordered tests, due to “a ten-day stand-still period”

required under European law before the deal is finalised.

The Echo understands two other companies had bid for the tender.

A source at one of the hospitals, said of the IPP bid: “In the short term, it should keep jobs at Southend and Basildon and in the medium term there may be a centralised service between the two, but not miles away in Bedford.

“I think the contractors have also had a similar service in Taunton, which I’m told is quite decent.

“Eventually there will be job losses but hopefully through natural wastage. I think the in-house pathology service will be OK under these plans.”

Sam Older, from Unison, said staff were not being told much about the deal before the end of the ten-day period.

He had previously raised concerns about the impact it would have on job losses and service levels.