A MEDICAL laboratory is being investigated after misdiagnosing calcium levels in blood samples.

Pathology First, which previously had to retest thousands of cervical smear tests after a substantial number of errors, has written to surgeries after complaints from a number of GPs about patients potentially being put at risk.

Surgeries are being asked to report adverse effects in patients because of the blunders which alarmingly the lab, in Bentalls, Basildon, says are a repeat of similar errors which occurred in 2017.

A low calcium level would alert doctors to the possibility of serious diseases including low hormone levels, vitamin D deficiency, kidney failure, pancreatitis and side effects of medication.

Southend and Basildon Hospitals are investigating the inaccuracies.

Pathology First is a joint venture by Southend and Basildon Hospitals and private company, Integrated Pathology Partnerships. It carries out a wide range of pathology tests for GPs and hospitals.

Neil Rothnie, medical director at Southend Hospital, said: “Following investigations in response to queries we received, an issue was discovered with the reporting of calcium tests.

“We follow agreed protocols to investigate any reported issues which include notifying GPs and consultants where tests results may be affected. Our patient safety teams at Southend and Basildon Hospitals are investigating the calcium testing inaccuracy.

“We are required to undertake a harm review for each patient whose test may have been affected. The Basildon and Southend Hospital patient safety teams have established there has been no harm to patients and no impact on patient management as a result of the inaccuracies in test results.”

NHS England launched an investigation into Pathology First in 2017 and retested 4,522 smear samples with 64 tests reclassified from negative to abnormal and 122 tests deemed inadequate. The lab no longer analyses smear tests

A spokesman for the Save Southend NHS campaign group said: “Yet again, Pathology First are trying to smooth over serious mistakes on their part. We have asked what the health implications for patients might be. To date we have not received a response.

“We are calling on the commissioners to remove contracts from Pathology First and reinstate the NHS labs.”