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How are local Healthwatch making a difference to blood testing services?


Blood tests are one of the most common types of medical test, and it’s likely that we will all have to have one at some point in our lives.

Take a look at just some of the ways local Healthwatch in London have been working to improve blood testing services.

Finding out people’s views

When Healthwatch Barking and Dagenham asked their local community about which health and social care services could be most improved, blood testing services came out as their main concern.

They surveyed 239 people to find out more about their experiences of accessing blood testing services.

They found that patients weren’t always aware of the different places they could go to have their blood test. This resulted in the two larger venues being heavily oversubscribed with patients facing long waiting times, while other venues were underused.

Healthwatch Barking and Dagenham shared what they found with the people who commission and provide the service and made a series of recommendations, including:

  • GPs should offer patients a full list of venues with the blood test form.
  • Two nurses should cover busy morning periods at the more popular sites.
  • A priority system for people who are fasting to prevent them experiencing long waiting times.
  • Evening services to reduce pressure on services in the early mornings.
  • Services should display a full list of alternative venues 

Both the service provider and commissioner welcomed their report and recommendations. As a result of Healthwatch Barking and Dagenham's work, an action plan has been put in place to improve services for their community.

 Visiting services to see them in action

After receiving a number of comments from members of the public about local blood testing services, Healthwatch Waltham Forest wanted to better understand how they were working in practice. They visited seven blood testing services in the area to see how they were run, focusing on six key areas; accessibility, environment, waiting times, staff, information and results.

They made a series of recommendations for each of the area including;

  • Reviewing opening times including days with earlier opening or later closing times
  • Introducing a standardised blood testing form to be used by GPs
  • Feedback questionnaires to be available so people can comment about the service
  • A system of regular review and analysis of comments so the service can continue to improve

Through these visits they were able to identify a number of areas that could be improved for a better patient experience.

Healthwatch Waltham Forest shared their recommendations with those who provide, host and commission the services. The provider has taken action to address a number of the recommendations already and a number are being included in the service specification redesign, with a view to commissioning a new service in 2017.  

Share your views

If you have an experience of blood testing services that you would like to share, or if you would like to find out more about services available near you, get in touch with your local Healthwatch.

Find your local Healthwatch