A BLOOD testing centre is set to be created on a Basildon industrial estate to deal with samples from south Essex hospitals.

Plans have been drawn up to transform a former pharmaceutical firm, in Bentalls, Pipps Hill, into a pathology centre.

Blood tests for Southend Hospital and Basildon Hospital would be carried out there.

The proposed move comes three months after Clare Panniker, chief executive of Basildon Hospital, and Jacqueline Totterdell, chief executive of Southend Hospital, announced a private firmhad been hired to run the service.

Staff will have their NHS contracts transferred to Integrated Pathology Partnership (IPP).

It’s a joint venture between two French companies which already runs a similar service in the South West, from Friday, August 1.

At the time of the shock announcement, both hospitals maintained local staff would “continue to interpret the results”, but would not reveal where the blood would be analysed.

Pathology workers from Southend Hospital are already thought to have plans to leave because of the proposals to create the blood testing centre in Basildon.

It was originally expected a site in between the two hospitals would be found.

Sam Older, from union Unison, said: “We are in ongoing talks with both hospitals and the IPP.

“We don’t think an industrial site is the best location for a service like this, and it is going to be a much longer journey for the Southend staff.

“We are really concerned about the safety of the staff. The proposed centre is in a high crime area, compared to both hospital sites at the moment.

“More than 400 staff members are transferring to IPP, but there are only 32 car parking spaces available, so I don’t know how that is going to work unless they plan to get rid of people.

“Hopefully it isn’t going to affect the patients who are having their blood taken.”

A shuttle bus service is expected to be set up for staff.

The existing pathology departments at Basildon Hospital and Southend Hospital will stay open to handle emergency tests.

In December 2012, NHS bosses announced plans to outsource blood tests to private company Community Pathology Services for analysis.

The blood would have been transported 90 miles to Bedford, prompting fears of delays due to traffic jams on major motorways.

The controversial scheme was dropped after the Echo campaigned to keep blood testing local, with more than 16,000 people signing our petition.