For a number of weeks constituents have been contacting me to advise of their concerns at the delays they have been experiencing when seeking a blood test. As was noted in a recent update, I have raised this issue in discussion with a local GP and also in a meeting with the Chief Executive of the Barking, Havering & Redbridge NHS University Trust (BHRUT). You may view my update following this initial discussion here – https://www.julialopez.co.uk/news/meeting-tony-chambers-bhrut
Prior to these earlier discussions, I had raised the matter in correspondence with the BHRUT and another local hospital trust, the North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NEFLT), who is responsible for the provision of community and mental health services in Havering. This includes some phlebotomy (blood) services. I have attached at the bottom of this webpage a copy of the response that I received this morning from the Chief Executive of NELFT, Professor Oliver Shanley OBE, outlining some of the steps NELFT are taking to improve blood testing capacity locally.
I was pleased to note that the opening hours of all NELFT phlebotomy clinics in Havering have been expanded to include both morning and afternoon sessions which will increase capacity locally. While this additional capacity is welcomed, as Professor Shanley has acknowledged, NELFT are also experiencing additional demand for these services.
Waiting times are currently longest at Elm Park Health Centre, where there is currently only one phlebotomy chair operating however Professor Shanley has advised that NELFT are planning to add an additional chair within the Health Centre for three months to help reduce the waiting time whilst a long-term solution for phlebotomy services provided by GPs is agreed.
NELFT is also planning to re-start the phlebotomy clinic from Cranham Health Centre once the building has been declared Covid-secure.
Although NELFT has been encouraging patients to book at any of the NELFT 14 phlebotomy sites in BHR to secure an earlier appointment if they can travel, they have been working closely with CCGs to address the increase in demand as part of a BHR-wide collaborative response. This included forming a BHR-wide Executive Working Group to oversee the entire phlebotomy position. Currently, BHR CCGs are finalising arrangements to enable GP practices to provide in-house phlebotomy services from late September with some practices already starting to provide services from 14 September. As noted in my last update on this topic, I am aware that some GPs have expressed concerns at the form of these arrangements which I have already referred to the CCG for their comment. I will provide a further update on this topic as soon as I receive a response from the CCG.
I am pleased that NELFT, CCGs, and other phlebotomy providers are reviewing current services to agree a long term plan for BHR phlebotomy provision. They aim to complete this review and propose a new service model by the end of February 2021. This will require a public consultation and Professor Shanley OBE expects the new service will be in place from April next year.
I hope this information is reassuring to constituents, and we are continuing to liaise with local residents and GPs to discuss their further concerns regarding the provision of phlebotomy services within Havering and BHRUT. Any further updates will of course be shared online.