Unite says closing specialist NHS lab in north London will mean testing blood donations will have to take place 120 miles away, near Bristol

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Balloting is due to begin this morning over possible strike action which could disrupt blood donation tests, in a dispute over plans to shut a NHS testing centre in north London.

Dozens of Unite members carry out frequently specialised tests on donors’ blood samples to make sure it is safe to use.

However, officials say the closure of the London centre will mean blood samples being transported more than 100 miles to be labs outside Bristol.

Ballot papers go out today asking Unite members at Colindale’s NHS Blood and Transplant Testing/ Microbiology Department if they wish to strike or take industrial action short of a strike because of the department being moved to Filton in Gloucestershire.

In addition, Unite members at Filton and Manchester will be asked to take industrial action short of a strike over increased workloads because of the Colindale closure.

Unite’s Head of Health, Rachael Maskell said: “This is a dispute which could hit the blood transfusion service for patients, as well as our members, including highly-qualified biomedical scientists, who now face losing their jobs at Colindale.

“We hope that the management re-considers its plans and keeps the Colindale centre open.

“It should not be forgotten that results for those, often worried, people waiting for the outcomes of their blood tests will take longer, as the 120-mile journey to the West Country would need to be taken into account.

“It is ludicrous that the populous London and south-east region would be without a world-class blood testing centre. We want the future of Colindale safeguarded, as well as the centres at Filton and Manchester.”

The result of the ballot is due on 18 September, the day before consultation closes on the closure of the Colindale site.


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