Phase two of plans to streamline phlebotomy (blood taking) services across part of Hampshire will be introduced soon.
By the end of April, all 38 GP practices in the area covered by NHS Fareham and Gosport and NHS South Eastern Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) will have their own in-house service.
This will mean that, for the first time, all GP patients registered at the practices will have access to equitable services across the areas taking in Gosport, Fareham and the A3 corridor from Hayling Island to Whitehill and Bordon, taking in Havant, Waterlooville and Petersfield.
Up until October 2018, 16 of the 38 GP practices provided their own service for GP initiated blood tests, 11 used a service provided by Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust (PHT) and the other 11 a service provided by staff from Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust (SHFT); all with differing locations and levels of access.
Under Phase One of the scheme, introduced last October, the 11 practices which used PHT staff switched to providing their own GP-initiated tests *See note to reporters.
Next month (April), the 11 practices which used Southern Health will instead provide their own service to undertake patient blood tests requested by GPs.**
This covers practices in south east Hampshire – as the Phase One practices were primarily in Fareham and Gosport.
Blood tests required by hospital consultants will still be carried out at Queen Alexandra (QA) Hospital and local community hospitals at Gosport, Fareham, Petersfield and St Mary’s Community Health Campus in Portsmouth.
Patients wanting GP-initiated tests must now book their appointments via their own practice.
The walk in services at QA and Petersfield are provided for patients with hospital consultant initiated tests only and patients will be advised to attend their GP practice if they attend with a GP-initiated blood request form. The clinics at Gosport, Fareham and St Mary’s are appointment-only.
The changes are in response to requests by patients to be able to access blood tests through their own GP surgery as it would make it more convenient for them to arrange appointments.
It also means that all patients in the area have access to a more streamlined and uniform service.
Dr Andrew Holden, the primary care lead for the two CCGs, said: “Patients needing blood tests should now be making their appointments through their own practice, if they were not already doing so.
“To try to ensure a smooth continuity of service during the change-over, patients in a few practices may have their blood taken by either practice staff or a Southern Health nurse during much of April.
“But by the end of April, those practices who are still recruiting will have their own staff in place.
“We know this change will have implications for some people who used the walk-in service at QA and Petersfield, but for the vast majority of patients, particularly those who have championed this change, the new arrangements will provide a more convenient and faster service – as we have seen at a number of Phase One sites.”
The new arrangements 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.
GP practices and the hospitals will work together so that patients requiring more than one blood test from different service providers need only one appointment at the same location.
Patients who have their blood taken at home by the local NHS domiciliary service are not affected by the changes, as they will still receive home visits.
Dr Holden added: “Those affected by the change will have it explained to them at the time of making their appointment. We know, from patients’ feedback, that there was previously a very mixed level of satisfaction for phlebotomy services. We now have a more uniform service that all patients can access in the same way.”
*Gosport practices sub-contracted the blood taking service to the Southern Hampshire Primary Care Alliance to provide the local phlebotomy service on behalf of the Gosport practices.
**The same arrangements as above will be in place for Hayling Island.