An improved community blood testing service is now up and running in Waltham Forest. The service is run by NELFT and commissioned by Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group.
People referred for a blood test by their GP can now book their appointments in advance using an online system that aims to reduce queuing and overcrowding at busy times.
The new community-based blood testing (phlebotomy) service also has longer opening hours, making it easier for people to arrange an appointment to suit them.
To mark the official launch of the new service, an event was held at Silverthorn Medical Centre in Chingford where representatives from local patient groups had the chance to use a check-in kiosk designed to cut waiting times.
The new-look service was developed in response to feedback from patients – many of whom said the previous walk-in and wait service was inconsistent and difficult to access, with long waits. In some cases, people reported being turned away because the service did not have enough capacity to see all of the patients waiting.
Philomena Arthur, Assistant Director Adult Community Health Service at NELFT, said:
“We are delighted with how the new community blood testing service has been received by patients so far. The queues for blood tests are now shorter and response to treatment has been quicker. We are also hearing feedback from the public in Waltham Forest saying that they are receiving a better experience from the new service.”
Dr Anwar Khan, a local GP and Chair of Waltham Forest CCG, said:
“We were aware from the comments we received that our blood testing service needed to change, so we listened carefully to what people were telling us and took action.
“Working closely with our patient groups, we’ve made a number of improvements and hope this will make the service more efficient, and much easier and quicker to use.
“The initial feedback we’ve received is very positive, but we’ll be reviewing the service over coming months to ensure it runs as smoothly as possible for our patients and GPs.”
Among the guests at the launch event in Chingford (Tuesday, 12 December) was service user Sue Harbour who welcomed the opportunity to book appointments online. She said: “Knowing I can book an appointment in advance and arrive at the blood centre at an allotted time means the new service will be much better than the old one.”
Service user Noel Hayes thought the new check-in kiosks made booking appointments much easier and more convenient. He said: “Instead of having to wait for a slot, I can now book an appointment on the way to the shops using the kiosk.”
In an effort to improve the service, blood testing is now available at three sites in Waltham Forest instead of the previous six. This will ensure more appointments are available overall, with extra phlebotomists working at each of the sites and all three open Monday to Friday.
The sites providing blood testing are:
- Silverthorn Medical Centre, 2 Friars Close, Chingford E4 6UN
- St James Health Centre, 47 St James St, Walthamstow E17 7NH
- Langthorne Health Centre, 13 Langthorne Road, Leytonstone E11 4HX
At present, the clinics at Silverthorn Medical Centre and Langthorne Health Centre (first to last appointment) run in the morning from 8.15am to 12.30pm. Clinics at St James Health Centre run from 8.15am to 12.30pm with an afternoon clinic from 1.15pm to 5.30pm.
Any patient referred for blood tests by their GP can now book appointments online for a day and time of their choice using the Swift Queue service. If a patient is unable to book their own appointment online, a relative or carer can register to book on their behalf.
To book an appointment online, visit www.nelft.nhs.uk/wf-blood-test, and click on the link next to the online booking option for the clinic you wish to attend.
Walk-in appointments will continue to be available until further notice for any patient referred for a blood test who is unable, or does not wish, to pre-book an appointment. The new check-in kiosks will allocate a time slot to walk-in patients, or offer them the opportunity to pre-book for another date or time. Appointments cannot be pre-booked by telephone.
Patients who require their blood tests to take place in their own homes will need to be referred to the NELFT domiciliary phlebotomy team by their GP. The new phlebotomy service, which started on November 1, can now see up to 30 patients per week at home, which is a significant improvement in the service provided for housebound patients.