A 77-YEAR-OLD woman with cancer has spoken of her difficulties getting a blood test following the closure of the phlebotomy service at Cirencester Hospital.

Marian Maclean, from South Cerney, is undergoing chemotherapy for incurable secondary breast cancer together with a newly discovered liver tumour.

In order for her to get her next chemotherapy prescription, she needs a three-weekly blood test, something that is proving much harder following the closure of the phlebotomy service.

Marian said: “I was advised quite firmly that as the service at Cirencester Hospital had closed, all GP surgeries have been given funding to take this process over and therefore I should definitely get my test done at my GP surgery (The Park Surgery).

“Apparently this is not the case for anyone who is currently under the care of a consultant.

“There are a great many sick people like me and I was told by my GP that we had ‘fallen through the net’.”

Marian did manage to secure an appointment through the new online booking system at Cirencester Hospital, but not without struggle.

With appointments at the hospital hard to come by with a large number of patients requiring the service, the only other option is a journey to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital or Cheltenham General Hospital – over 15 miles away from the town.

Marian added: “For vulnerable people like me, in the present pandemic the bus is not an option to get to these destinations, neither is a taxi which would cost approximately £70.

“It is totally outrageous, especially at this time of awful fear and uncertainty with the current pandemic, that a group of bureaucrats have made a unilateral decision without concern for the welfare of those very sick people.

“This very unsatisfactory situation needs to be resolved with extreme urgency.”

Since the phlebotomy service closed at Cirencester Hospital at the start of this month, blood tests have had to be carried out at local GP surgeries, with only patients who are admitted on to the hospital’s wards or receiving outpatient treatment still able to have their blood taken on site if their condition or treatment requires it.

Outpatient blood testing continues to be available at Cirencester Hospital every Monday morning throughout September and October.

Due to Covid-19, blood tests on a drop-in basis are not currently available with an online booking system in its place.

A spokesman for the NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group said: “We are very sorry to hear of this lady’s concerns and take them very seriously. We are pleased contact has been made with our patient advice and liaison service so we can look into them fully.

“Changes have been made to blood testing services across Gloucestershire to improve the quality and equity of the service and ensure that patients receive care in the right place at the right time.

“However, we recognise that service arrangements could be further strengthened and improved. We are taking urgent action to progress this and will provide a further update in the near future.

"This matter will be also discussed at the November meeting of the county’s health overview and scrutiny committee, by which time permanent plans for community phlebotomy services in the South Cotswolds should be in place.”