The system for booking blood tests at an Erith clinic will be kept as it is after a petition was set up to oppose changes.

Erith and District Hospital currently asks patients to call the phlebotomy clinic to make a blood test appointment.

However, Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust had planned to change the system back to its 'first come, first served' policy, but some patients were worried about this.

Bob Moore, 69, told News Shopper: "Thousands of people queued outside under the old system, sometimes in the rain and the cold."

The NHS trust explained it planned to change the booking policy as 20 per cent of patients were missing appointments.

However, patients argued the appointment system was better than 'taking a number' and waiting, and started a petition against the proposal.

The petition gained more than 1,000 signatures and the backing of several councillors - as well as the local MP.

Now the trust has announced it will not change the system as originally planned, after the number of missed appointments went down.

A spokesman for the trust said: "As you know, earlier in the year we proposed changing the appointments system at the clinic and moving to a walk-in service.

"This was because a high number of patients – on average 78 a week – were not attending appointments.

"As a result, we could not offer appointments in a timely manner when people needed early blood tests, and some local people were being forced to travel to other clinics for their blood tests.

"After concerns were raised by users of the service and local people, we stopped our plans to move to a walk-in service.

"We are extremely pleased to say that the number of people who do not attend appointments under the current system has reduced significantly – from an average of 78 a week to around 40 a week."

Teresa Pearce, MP for Thamesmead and Erith, said she was pleased the system was staying put, and called on the trust and the clinical commissioning group to make sure the number of people missing appointments does not go up again.

She said: "Users of the service have suggested to me that the system of booking appointments is not effective and as its only by phone it relies on the person, who may well be frail or unwell, writing down the time and date and then remembering.

"As the CCG tell us that the future is digital and online being able to book online which could also include text reminders would significantly reduce non-attendance and should be pursued by them as part of their commissioning of this service."