A PHLEBOTOMY service is to be withdrawn from a Flintshire surgery due to 'concerns over sample safety and integrity'.

The service will no longer be available at Saltney Health Centre from January 1, raising concerns over viability for residents to utilise the vital amenity.

But Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board, which has made the decision to close the service at the Saltney surgery - a branch service of The Stables Medical Practice in Hawarden - said it is 'due to concerns over sample safety and integrity following a review of bottle storage pre and post blood collection'.

Nevertheless a petition has been launched by residents in opposition to the withdrawal of the service - with concerns over whether patients, in particular the elderly, will be able to travel further afield for their phlebotomy appointments.

Cllr Veronica Gay, county councillor for Saltney Stonebridge Ward, said: "Saltney is a town of over 5,000 which seems to be being erased from the map.

"In losing the phlebotomy service it's another blow to residents, in particular the elderly - we have no NHS chiropodists and now no phlebotomy service.

"To get to Deeside Community Hospital - which is now the closest available place to see a phlebotomist - there is one bus from Saltney which still leaves people with a 15 minute walk.

"Many of the people needing phlebotomy may not be well enough to walk these sort of distances.

"I understand there may be reasons behind the change, but I still don't think they've taken into account the provision - or the lack of it - for Saltney residents to now access the service.

"It's time something was done about Saltney being stripped to the bone - all because we're a cross border down that falls in between people's responsibility."

A Betsi Cadwaladr spokesman said: “Unfortunately, the phlebotomy service at Saltney will close from January 1. This is due to concerns over sample safety and integrity following a review of bottle storage pre and post blood collection, and the timing of sample collection from the surgery.

“In order to ensure the results of blood tests are accurate, samples bottles must be stored in controlled environment before used and, most importantly, after blood has been collected.

“Following an audit of our services it was identified that due to surgery hours and storage arrangements we are unable to ensure the safe and appropriate storage of samples, which may impact test results and therefore your clinical care.

“While the service is scheduled to cease on January 1, we are actively looking at alternative ways to provide a phlebotomy service in Saltney, including working with the surgery to address the concerns raised.

“Patients can access community phlebotomy service at other locations across North East Wales by appointment by calling the phlebotomy appointment line on 03000 850047. Lines are open Monday – Friday 8:30am – 4:30pm.”