STAFF carrying out NHS blood services on Merseyside have been told they are facing redundancy.

Phlebotomists working for Wirral’s Community NHS Foundation Trust (CT) were reportedly called into an emergency meeting last month to be informed about contractual changes meaning their jobs are no longer needed.

The move will affect 14 employees providing services for patients of 22 GPs – all of those under Wirral CT’s federation – and will take effect from July.

Wirral CT said it was supporting the “small number of staff affected”, and is now working with them “to explore all possible options”.

On Thursday, a statement from Wirral Health and Care Commissioning (WHaCC) said: “Wirral CT has successfully provided phlebotomy services in Wirral for the last 10 years, during which time it has worked hard to provide a service that meets patient needs.

“However, due to contractual changes in 2018, the trust regrets that it can no longer provide the service to the 22 GP practices it currently supports. This will be with effect from July 1.”

The statement said WHaCC will work with the 22 practices to “determine a suitable alternative service model” before July. That will ensure a “smooth transition for patients,” it added.

Phlebotomy staff carry out blood tests, often used to assess a patient’s general state of health, detect infections or to see how well organs are working.

The decision will affect 22 GPs across the entire borough – in Birkenhead, South Wirral, West Wirral and Wallasey.

It is currently run in the form of both pre-bookable appointments and drop-in sessions at centres including Whetstone Medical Centre and St Catherine’s Health Centre in Birkenhead, Eastham Clinic, Victoria Health Centre in Wallasey, and The Warrens (West Wirral GP) in Heswall.

The statement added: “Primary Care Wirral GP Federation has confirmed it will support its member practices to provide a service in line with patients’ needs.

“There is no impact on the Community Phlebotomy Services delivered by other providers in Wirral.”

Birkenhead resident June Bell, who attends one of the affected surgeries, said she was “shocked” when she heard the news. She was told doctors will soon be carrying out blood tests instead – a claim that has not been confirmed.

Ms Bell added: “They are dependent. It’s their jobs. It must be very concerning for them and their families.”

Cllr Phil Gilchrist, the borough’s Liberal Democrat leader and member for the Eastham ward, described the situation as “very unsettling for patients and an anxious time for staff”.

He added: “This is very frustrating for all caught up in it. The system has not been working as well as it might.

“I have had comments about this in recent weeks. It is very unsettling for patients and an anxious time for staff.

“Patients need to get a stable service from now until June. Some feel they’ve been sent from pillar to post. Plans for a longer lasting solution are, I hear, are being drawn up.

“I am awaiting a full letter of explanation from local NHS chiefs.”