Barts Health consultant haematologist Dr Tom Butler reveals how a collaboration between primary and secondary care is keeping our patients safe well beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.
When the pandemic started we knew that we had to take action to keep patients safe. But we also knew that we had to continue to treat our patients.
What we couldn’t do was pretend that nothing had changed.
So, colleagues from Barts Health, North East London and East London Foundation trusts and local GPs got together to ensure that patients are were making unnecessary trips to hospital.
We saw that effective use of technology could improve patient care during and after the pandemic.
Before the pandemic, patients had to come to hospital for clinics, medications and blood tests. This couldn’t continue if we wanted to make sure that patients were safe.
Whilst many patients were benefiting from the option of telephone and video clinics (unless they really needed to be seen face-to-face), lots of patients were still coming for blood tests and to pick up their medication.
Our new electronic prescribing system means a hospital clinician anywhere in Barts Health can send prescriptions electronically to the Lloyds Pharmacies based within our hospitals.
Patients no longer have to collect their medicines at the hospital because our new approach means that they can be delivered to patients at home, quickly and securely.
We’ve also changed how we do phlebotomy (also known as blood tests).
By using our community hubs, patients can have a blood test closer to where they live, rather than have to go to one of our hospitals.
Our new IT systems allow a hospital clinician anywhere in Barts Health to request a blood test and the patient can then book themselves an appointment in one of our community locations.
This is safer and more convenient for people like Alan Wells, our patient lead for the project, who currently visits hospital regularly for blood tests.
Alan said: “These changes mean I feel very safe; as safe as I could be.”
In many locations patients don’t even have to bring their blood test label – and we’re working with our new hubs to make this the case at every location.
Finally, a big thank you to everyone involved in the project, including our patient representatives, for making this possible.
I’m really pleased how we’ve managed to get patients to help lead these projects, alongside other healthcare professionals in several different organisations.
By working together, we’ve improved care and made sure that patients are – and feel – safe.
These changes aren’t just about the pandemic but about the future vision of key services serving people in East London.
It’s not the end of change and development, just the beginning
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