A CONSULTANT physician has branded plans to move blood testing services to Bedford Hospital “madness”.

Throwing his weight behind the Echo’s campaign to prevent pathology tests ordered by GPs being sent on an 88-mile journey for processing, John Mellor, who has been a consultant for 25 years, said the cost-cutting move had virtually no support in the medical community.

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Dr Mellor, who worked as a consultant at Southend Hospital, specialising in general medicine, geriatric medicine and gastroenterology, said: “Based on my 25 years of experience as a consultant physician in Southend, madness is the only polite word I can find to describe plans to send tests to a centralised lab service in Bedford.

“So far I am only aware of one doctor supporting this move yet every colleague I have spoken with - both in hospital and general practice - opposes the proposal.”

Dr Mellor, a father of three who now works as a consultant at a private practise in Leigh, added: “As a result of these changes there will be an inevitable loss of scientific expertise from local hospital labs. On countless occasions a personal discussion with lab scientists has helped to resolve of difficult problems.

“This face to face interaction can't be replaced with a telephone call and can't be measured by the bean-counters bringing about theses changes.

“The bean counters of the world seem to only have interest in finance and the phrase " they know the price of everything and the value of nothing" comes to mind.”

Dr Mellor is the latest physician to support the Echo campaign. Dr Philip Kelly, who works at the acute medical unit at Southend Hospital has expressed concerns that the highly specialised service will “suffer for the sickest and most vulnerable patients in the district.”

Both Southend and Basildon Hospitals lost out on a bid to handle blood and other tests ordered by GPs under a scheme to centralise services. Despite huge local opposition, health officials maintain the move will not affect patient care.


THE chief executive of Bedford Hospital quit last year and a replacement hasn’t been chosen. Joe Harrison announced his sudden departure at the end of November.

At the time Unison said the announcement would affect morale among the 2,500 staff at the hospital.

Hospital spokesman Paul Cooper said the hospital was still not in a position to announce a replacement or to confirm when Mr Harrison would leave to take up a new post at Milton Keynes NHS Foundation Trust.

Mr Cooper said the hospital couldn’t comment further on how they hope to provide the new service until further meetings had been held but that they hope to do so soon.