By Bill Heaney
Jackie Baillie MSP has renewed calls for a 24-hour lab service to be restored at the Vale of Leven Hospital after it was revealed that almost £50,000 was spent taxiing blood samples to other hospitals over the last year alone.
Figures released to the Dumbarton constituency MSP under Freedom of Information legislation show that the bill from March last year to the end of February this year totalled £48,235.25.
And in March this year alone, £4,202.20 has been spent on taxis for blood samples from the Alexandria hospital to other facilities for analysis.
Almost 2000 journeys have been undertaken over the past 12 months for this purpose with the bill over the last four years totalling almost £200,000.
Similar information obtained last year by Ms Baillie, pictured right, also outlined that it would cost less for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to employ a Biomedical Scientist to process the samples than it does to taxi them to another hospital for processing.
The lab service in the Vale of Leven Hospital operates from Monday to Friday between 9am until 8pm and is used for Biochemistry, Haematology and Blood Transfusion.
There is also Point of Care Testing (POCT) equipment available outwith those times for key lab tests however other testing is transported off site at regular intervals for analysis at the RAH in Paisley.
Jackie Baillie said: “This has been a problem for years at the Vale of Leven Hospital and spending around £50,000 a year on taxiing blood samples to other hospitals is not a good use of public money. In fact, it is far from it.
“Not only is this a huge and unnecessary outlay but it is also potentially delaying test results coming back which, for patients and staff, is causing anxiety and delays to treatment.
“Patients praise the treatment provided by the dedicated staff at the Vale of Leven Hospital. It’s high time that the health board use their money smartly so people can receive the service they would expect and that includes on site testing. The hospital needs to be used to its full potential. Switching from using taxis to analysing samples on-site would potentially cost less than the current situation. Surely, that’s a no-brainer.
“The money can be better used by restoring the out-of-hours lab service urgently.”