Changes are taking place to the way that blood tests are carried out across parts of the Fareham, Gosport and south eastern Hampshire areas.
NHS South Eastern Hampshire and NHS Fareham and Gosport Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are looking to streamline phlebotomy services in the hope that all 38 GP practices in their localities will eventually offer the service in the same way.
Many patients will not be affected by the changes – but for some patients it means they will now be able to have a test at their own GP practice, when requested to by their GP.
The new arrangements allow GP practices to put more focus on blood test appointments by undertaking other checks which may help in the management of the patient’s care.
It will also enable GP practices to ensure that a patient with multiple conditions will only need to have a blood test once - and that sample is tested for the multiple conditions, saving the patient and NHS time.
Blood tests are either requested by a GP (GP initiated) or by a hospital (consultant initiated).
Nearly half of the 38 GP practices in the Gosport, Fareham, Hayling Island, Havant, Waterlooville, Horndean, Rowlands Castle, Emsworth, Petersfield and Whitehill and Bordon areas already had a contract with the CCGs to provide blood services to their patients.
The other practices used nurses from either Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust (PHT) or Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust on designated days at their surgeries or from a local community hospital.
Since October 1, those practices which previously used PHT staff to take blood tests now use their own staff.
It is hoped that the remaining practices, which use Southern Health staff, will also take their services in house early in 2019. These GP practices are beginning to prepare for the move.
Dr Andrew Holden, the primary care lead for both CCGs, said: “Patients do not need to do anything any differently. Those who are affected by the change will have it explained to them at the time of making their appointment, but we think the vast majority will be delighted by the new arrangements.
“We know, from patients’ feedback, that there have been different levels of satisfaction for phlebotomy services previously. We are trying to make the service more uniformed, so that all patients access blood tests in the same way.
“This will make it more convenient for patients. Staff at the GP practices will best know their patients and understand their needs. Patients can see their own nurse and that nurse will have full access to their patient records.”
Patients at Gosport practices can also choose to go to certain other GP practices in Gosport, if that is more convenient for them.
Patients who already receive blood tests at home (domiciliary services), perhaps because they are housebound, will not be affected. Their home service will continue unchanged.
Consultant-initiated tests are usually performed at hospital. This process will continue in future, although, under the changes, PHT patients can now chose instead to have their tests at Gosport War Memorial Hospital, Fareham Community Hospital or Petersfield Community Hospital.