Patient safety at risk over new blood test shifts on M...

Patient safety at risk over new blood test shifts on Merseyside, warns Unite

01 July 2016

Patient safety could be under threat because there are not enough biomedical scientists to operate a new shift pattern checking and analysing blood samples in the Merseyside and Cheshire areas.

This warning came today (Friday 1 July) from Unite, the country’s largest union, as Liverpool Clinical Laboratories (LCL) prepares to introduce a new shift system on Monday (4 July), which, the union, says is inherently unsafe as there are not enough trained staff to meet demand.

Unite regional officer Keith Hutson said: “In the interests of patient safety, we urge the management to delay the implementation of the new shift system on Monday until there is a sufficient number of biomedical scientists to do all the detailed checking and analysis in the haematology and chemistry laboratories.

“Our discussions with management have been plagued with its inconsistent figures as to what it considers a safe level of staffing. 

“Our members have repeatedly warned that the Monday deadline cannot be met without compromising patient safety, even more than it already is under the present creaking system

“Unite is only asking LCL to put back the implementation date until the labs concerned have the correct levels of staffing.

“It was this type of management pig-headedness not to listen to reason that led to the Mid Staffordshire and Morecambe Bay disasters.

“Our members want to protect the public in this region from potential harm – that’s their duty as healthcare professionals.”

The union said that the chemistry laboratory needs a minimum of 15 whole time equivalent (WTEs) biomedical scientists to be considered safe; but only 12 are available.

The haematology/transfusion department needs 19.5 WTEs to be considered safe, but only 14 WTEs are currently available.

According to its website, LCL says it is: “The largest pathology service provider in Cheshire and Merseyside, formed from the amalgamation of the pathology clinical services and laboratories of the Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (AUHT) and the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust (RLBUHT).”

It processes over five million sample tests each year.


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite regional officer Keith Hutson on 07798 531005 or Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Email: 

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.