Review of blood testing centres highlights benefits for patients

Review of blood testing centres highlights benefits for patients

Improvements to the blood testing service in Waltham Forest have enabled clinics to open longer and more patients to be seen, according to a review by local NHS commissioners. 

The new community blood testing service – delivered by NELFT – was launched in November last year and since then more than 100 comments have been received from patients, GPs and local people which have been listened to and acted upon. 

The service was redesigned using feedback from Healthwatch Waltham Forest and patients’ comments; for example, people said they wanted longer opening hours, more phlebotomists, and changes to the waiting system so they knew how long they would wait or how to rebook an appointment. 

A recent review by the CCG (published in full on the CCG’s website) shows that in its first six months, the service saw around 6,000 more patients than in the same period a year ago. 

More than half of all bookings by patients and the public are being made using the service’s online booking system, which enables people to select their own appointment in advance. 

Where necessary, walk-in appointments are still available, and where GPs request a test, people can be seen within 24 hours. GPs are able to book urgent blood tests on their patients’ behalf. 

The new service also allows people to use check-in screens that allocate a time slot to walk-in patients, or offer them the opportunity to pre-book for another date or time. 

Dr Anwar Khan, Chair of the CCG said: "People are now able to choose a time that suits them – potentially avoiding long queues and overcrowding at busy times. 

By providing these different options, we are making the service easier to use and giving people a much better opportunity to book an appointment that suits them.” 

Blood testing is available at three sites in Waltham Forest which all open Monday to Friday. To ensure as many appointments are available as possible, there are extra phlebotomists working at all three sites: 

  • Silverthorn Medical Centre, 2 Friars Close, Chingford E4 6UN – open 8.15am to 12.30pm 
  • St James Health Centre, 47 St James St, Walthamstow E17 7NH – open 8.15am to 12.30pm and 1.15pm to 5.30pm 
  • Langthorne Health Centre, 13 Langthorne Road, Leytonstone E11 4HX – open 8.15am and 12.30pm. 

In addition to introducing afternoon appointments, NELFT has made more home visits available. There are now six appointments per day, five days per week, for people referred by their GP. The majority of home visits are completed within two days of referral. 

If a patient is unable to book an appointment online, a friend, relative or carer can register to book on their behalf. For those using the online system, support is available if required. 

Library staff and a team of volunteers, called Digital Champions, are also available to help people book blood tests online. In addition to this, a number of free learning events have been organised across the borough – including library drop-in sessions and one-to-one coaching on setting up email accounts or using a new smart phone or laptop – to ensure people can use the services they need. 

For more information, contact your local library or email assisted.digital@walthamforest.gov.uk 

In response to public feedback, ‘Phlebotomy Meet and Greet’ volunteers are being recruited to assist patients while waiting at blood testing clinics. You can read the role description to find out more and get information on how to apply. NELFT – the service provider will manage any volunteers. 

For more information about the community blood testing service, and video guides on how to book online, go to www.nelft.nhs.uk/wf-blood-test

You can read about how patients influenced the service changes in a ‘You said, we did’ report on the Get Involved pages of the NHS Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) website. 

Your feedback is invaluable so please continue to share by calling us on 0300 300 1711 or email via nelftcomplaints@nelft.nhs.uk.

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