Barts Health patients no longer need to attend hospital for a blood test after a number of local centres – known as community phlebotomy hubs – were established across our east London boroughs.
The hubs, which are typically located at GP practices and health centres, are open to patients who have had blood tests requested by GPs or by hospital teams.
As well as offering greater convenience and cutting down on travel time, they are also helping patients avoid unnecessary trips to hospital whilst Covid-19 remains in circulation in society.
The same locations are also available to patients who need to drop off stool samples.
Dr Tom Butler, consultant haematologist and lead for the project, said: “These changes will really benefit patients across north east London – saving time and, crucially, keeping people safe whilst Covid-19 remains a threat to everyone’s health.
“This project – a collaboration between Barts Health, East London and North East London Foundation Trusts and local GPs – is a fantastic example of how organisations, working closely with patient representatives, can drastically improve care.
“These are innovations many of us wanted before the pandemic. Whilst Covid-19 has accelerated these changes, they are not just about the pandemic but the future vision for our services in north east London. It’s not the end but the beginning.”
In addition to opening up new blood test locations, Barts Health is working with the community hubs to enable the on-site printing of test labels, meaning clinicians and patients no longer need to have labels printed in advance of their appointment.
Dr Butler said: “On-site printing may seem like a small change, but supporting our local hubs to provide labels on the day really frees up time for our staff and, most importantly, means that no patient has to wait for the post or is unable to have a blood test because of a forgotten or lost label.”
Patient lead Alan Wells said: “Some people, like me, need to have very regular blood tests to make sure that we’re continuing to be healthy.
“All of us going for a blood test need to be able to go somewhere that’s easy to get to. But even more important than convenience is feeling safe, particularly during this pandemic.
“These changes mean I feel very safe, as safe as I could be.”
The service is only available to patients who have a blood test requested by Barts Health or a local GP.
We are working with patients and clinicians to develop the system further, including by introducing a booking system for blood test appointments, so check our website for the latest information.
How we’re protecting patients by changing the way we provide hospital medications
Barts Health patients are not only benefiting from more blood test locations. A new service means medicines can now be delivered direct to patients’ homes, without the need to visit hospital.
During a traditional face-to face appointment, patients requiring medication had to take their paper prescription to the hospital pharmacy and wait for their medications to be dispensed.
An increase in the number of patients having telephone and video consultations means that this approach doesn’t always work.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, thousands of patients have been receiving their medications via courier or postal service, avoiding unnecessary trips to hospital and helping to limit the number of people in our buildings.
Deliveries are followed up by a phone call from the hospital pharmacy team to provide guidance on the use of new medications.
Patients with questions about their medications can contact a helpline operated by the team, and, for those patients who do still need to visit hospital for their appointment, collection from the hospital pharmacy is still available.