A HEALTH BOARD has been criticised after its blood service was put on hold at a community hospital due to “temporary staffing issues”.

Councillors have hit out at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) for failing to provide temporary staff at Ruthin Community Hospital after its blood test service was suspended on April 17.

It is understood that a number of staff are on maternity and sickness absence from the community hospital, which offers blood tests to about 13,000 patients from the Mount Street Clinic and Plas Meddyg surgeries in Ruthin.

Emrys Wynne, Ruthin county councillor, said BCUHB should have had a plan in place to continue the service there.

He said: “I understand that a member of staff is on maternity leave and a number are absent due to illness and injury.

“However I would expect that a body of BCUHB’s size would have staff that it could relocate. I do not understand how they could not have a plan for this.

“An effort should be made to fill the gaps and the sooner the better.”

BCUHB is currently redirecting the patients requesting a blood test to Denbigh Infirmary, eight miles away.

Ruthin town councillor Anne Roberts said the community hospital has a busier blood service than the infirmary, which should not be expected to take extra patients.

“BCUHB could have brought in temporary or agency staff,” she added.

"It could have been managed a lot better."

BCUHB also received criticism for not giving patients prior notice about the measure.

Bobby Feeley, Ruthin county councillor, accused BCUHB of “really poor communication” after she was inundated with questions from concerned residents about whether the change would be permanent.

She said one woman was told by the community hospital to book a blood test at Denbigh Infirmary but could not travel there at short notice.

“The disruption and upset this has caused is unnecessary,” Cllr Feeley said.

"It certainly would have been a good idea to inform patients beforehand."

Cllr Roberts said the decision not to notify patients is "appalling".

Responding to a request for comment, BCUHB said the service would be resumed “in the coming weeks”.

A BCUHB spokesperson said: “Due to a temporary staffing issue we’re unable to provide blood test appointments at Ruthin Community Hospital.

“Patients can access blood tests at Denbigh Infirmary.

“We are working to resume blood testing at Ruthin Community Hospital in the coming weeks.”

The community hospital is set to be redeveloped later this year as part of a plan to relocate services from Mount Street Clinic, which was deemed “not fit for purpose”.

The plan includes the transfer of the surgery’s three GPs, practical nurse and 3,000 patients.