Empty ward could be used for blood-testing after boiler breaks at Wanstead Hospital

Landmark locations across Redbridge. The old Wanstead Hospital building

Landmark locations across Redbridge. The old Wanstead Hospital building - Credit: Archant

A hospital ward which has been empty for months could be used to house blood testing and physiotherapy services.

A problem with the boiler has forced the phlebotomy service at the Old Wanstead Hospital site, Makepeace Road, Wanstead, to stay shut over the past two weeks, with patients being redirected to Whipps Cross Hospital, Leytonstone.

The temporary closure had led to fears among campaigners that the service – run by Barts Health – would be permanently moved, following the closure of the site’s two rehabilitation wards, Heronwood and Galleon, last year.

But now Barts has confirmed it is exploring whether phlebotomy services could be moved into the Galleon ward to “provide a better experience for staff and patients”.

A statement released yesterday said: “Unfortunately, the boiler in the unit we use for blood testing at the Old Wanstead Hospital has stopped working. When taking blood, staff must be able to comply with infection control responsibilities like being able to thoroughly wash their hands, so we are temporarily asking patients to attend Whipps Cross Hospital’s outpatients area 1 instead.

“We immediately escalated the issue to the owners of the building, NHS Property Services, to get the problem fixed as soon as possible.

“Having now investigated the issue, NHS Property Services advised that it would be better for patients to explore the possibility of using the adjoining building (the Galleon Unit) at Wanstead for phlebotomy and physiotherapy services.

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“Galleon Unit is in better physical condition and would provide a better experience for staff and patients, while safeguarding these facilities in Wanstead.

“We are therefore working together with NHS Property Services and the local Clinical Commissioning Group to rapidly work up this solution.”

Campaigner Helen Zammett, of the Wanstead and Snaresbrook Residents Association (WaSRA), said: “Residents are relieved to know that there is now a clear plan to restart the phlebotomy service in the Galleon Unit on the Wanstead Hospital site.

“However, a lot of anxiety and inconvenience would have been prevented if Barts Health had made this clear at the outset.”

The statement said final checks on the building and paperwork were being carried out and the trust hoped the issue could be resolved within the next month.

“We can assure patients that this is a temporary issue and there are no plans to stop offering these important services at Wanstead.”