A Midland MP has called on Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt to "explain the merits" of axeing vital jobs at Birmingham's blood and transplant centre.

Staff at the National Blood Service's centre in Edgbaston have been warned to expect redundancies as all testing, processing and crossmatching will now be done at a new site in Filton, Bristol.

The Edgbaston facility supplies 35 hospitals across the region and employs about 250 staff. The city's blood bank, which is also based at the complex, is unaffected by the restructuring.

But up to 210 jobs are set to go at centres in Birmingham, Oxford, Plymouth and Southampton.

John Hemming MP (Lib Dem Yardley) has asked Ms Hewitt to justify the proposed cuts.

He said: "I don't think this move will save any money, in fact it will probably cost more in the long run.

"How is it in the patients' best interests for blood tests, cross-matching and processing to be done in Bristol, and ante-natal work being carried out in Sheffield?

"My view is that this is a foolish proposal putting patients at risk.

"I have raised this matter with the Health Secretary but as yet have had no reply. I dare say she's rather overwhelmed by the public reaction she's getting to the chaotic state the NHS is in at the moment."

Redundancies have not been ruled as part of the review and development of NBS estates, as its centres in Birmingham and Bristol are in the poorest condition.

Services that will move to the new centre include processing and validation, testing, red cell immunohaematology reference and donor records.

About 100 jobs will be created at the Filton site, while it is hoped jobs will be lost through retirement, vacancy control and voluntary redundancies. However compulsory redundancies have not been ruled out at this stage.

Councillor Deirdre Alden (Con Edgbaston), who chairs the city council's health scrutiny committee, said: "We've got a great medical health hub in Edgbaston, so I am sorry to see any part of that leave the city. I don't want any of these services to be relocated, especially if patients are going to be affected."

A spokeswoman for NBS in Birmingham said the changes would not affect their service to local hospitals.

She said: "We wanted to ensure that services that need to be close to patients would remain in, or close to, their current location. Staff were told about this a couple of weeks ago, and consultation over what jobs will go and where is taking place."