Thursday 29 November 2012

Transport for Blood Samples from Scilly still unresolved!

Having blood samples taken for analysis is a routine procedure in GP clinics around the country but not in Scilly or at least not now.  The issue is transport to get blood samples off the islands and to the laboratory before they deteriorate.  The answer to a recent Parliamentary Question revealed, unexpectedly, no solution in the pipeline.  It is one of number of transport issues that FRIST wants to see the Council Transport Committee to pick up when it meets on 6 Dec.  Do you have winter transport problems that you want FRIST to raise?  Read on for more details.

Blood samples are bio-hazards and are therefore treated “dangerous goods “ when transported by air and air operators require “dangerous goods approval” (a licence) to carry them.  BIH had such a licence but Skybus does not which means blood samples can only be moved to the mainland by freighter when it visits (3 times a week on average).  This imposes serious delays and means that only  ‘limited bloods’ can be taken by clinics on the islands.  Where a patient’s blood sample is not one of the types covered by “limited bloods” (a sample which needs prompt testing) the patient has to travel to the mainland to have samples taken. 

It was assumed that Civil Aviation Authority bureaucracy was the problem but we learnt today in a written answer to a Parliamentary question that the CAA has not received a formal application for a licence from Skybus.  The CCA have stated that when a application is received they will deal with it as a priority. See response here. 

The current workaround with ‘limited bloods’ mean that samples are only taken after arrangements are coordinated with the Steamship Company and a mainland courier to ensure they will arrive at the laboratory before they spoil.  Clinics to collect samples are then arranged to fit in with the transport. 

Transport for blood samples is just one of a number of current issues.  Another is the inability to receive air cargo via Newquay Airport when Lands End Airport is not flying.  Reportedly Newquay Airport baggage handlers will not handle air cargo.  Irrespective whether this explanation is true or not, the result has been Saturday’s (17 Nov) mail and newspapers arriving on the islands on Thursday (22 Nov).  Clive Mumford, the owner of the Paper Shop, is seeing his business evaporate as he predicted (see Aggravations at the The Paper Shop 12 Oct 2012 post).

The issue is not so much that there are problems following the closure of the helicopter service (some problems were inevitable) but that there is no coordinated effort to resolve them promptly.  Given the diverse range of private and public organizations as individuals involved in transport issues this is a task well suited to the IOS Council to manage.  The Council’s Transport Committee meets on 6 Dec 12 and FRIST is expecting to be invited to attend given an commitment made by the Chairman at FRIST’s meeting with Norman Baker, Transport Minister,  in London on 1 November.

If you have winter transport issue that you want FRIST to raise with the Transport Committee please email them to as soon as you can so that FRIST can provide a list to the Chairman of the Committee in advance of the meeting. 

1 comment:

  1. I so hope this issue get's resolved quickly. I worry each day about my health and this sittuation just add's greater worry. I just hope my blood samples reach the mainland without any problems ready for my next hospital visit six day's later.