THERE was a very lively demonstration of blood testing workers outside Colindale tube station yesterday morning.
They were handing out post cards explaining their fight to stop the closure of Colindale NHS Blood and Transplant Testing Laboratory.
Unite rep Barry Tomkins told News Line: ‘What’s been going on here is an attempt to cut public services and push to privatisation, where essentially instead of care being the primary motive, it comes down to making a profit.
‘Between 300 and 400 work here, testing blood for London and the South East right up to East Anglia and down to Southampton – a huge geographical area. They want to move it over to Bristol.
‘We are prepared to take strike action if necessary, though, as with all NHS action, still providing emergency cover. We won’t let them close us down.’
Collette Cullen, blood donation testing lab manager and Unite member, said: ‘We have very highly skilled staff who would lose their jobs with the closure. The service we provide is essential to London.
‘We are the only testing lab left in London after they closed Brentwood and Tooting in the last two years. This is an NHS cut and potentially really damaging.
‘If they closed us, samples would have to go all the way to Filton in Bristol every night.
‘Huge numbers of hospitals in London which use lots and lots of blood products would be put in jeopardy.
‘Some testing has to be done very rapidly and transport delays would harm supply, including those for newborn babies.’
Peter Ilo, a biomedical scientist and Unite member, added: ‘They’ve already closed several sites, we are now down to three in the country and they want to close this one.
‘They say it would save one million pounds a year, but it would be an irresponsible measure. Although 41 testing jobs would be threatened, really it would be the whole site under threat.’
Khadra said: ‘I’m here to save the National Blood Service. I’ve worked here for two years and I think it’s risky not having the centre in London. It’s a good place to work, the staff are brilliant.
‘But it’s not about saving our jobs, it’s about saving patients’ lives.’