10:00 AM March 19, 2022
A pilot service intended to improve waiting times for blood tests in east London has exceeded initial expectations, a Havering Council committee was told.
The issue began when a huge backlog developed in 2020 after restrictions were placed on the number of venues offering blood tests across Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge.
A “serious incident” was subsequently declared, with waits of up to three months reported during the pandemic.
Last June, a pilot community blood testing service was launched by North East London Clinical Commissioning Group (NEL CCG), with the goal of reducing wait times to a maximum of seven days for all patients and the same day or next for urgent patients.
Figures provided to Havering’s health overview and scrutiny sub-committee on March 16 show 91 per cent of appointments in Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge were carried out within a week in January this year.
Director of transformation at NEL CCG, Tracy Rubery, called the past delays a “dire situation” but added: “We have [now] got very good patient feedback, the results show over 95pc of patients are having a good experience.
“When we first put the pilot in the aim was to get all tests done within two weeks, actually we’re far exceeding that. The service is being really well utilised.”
Patients are encouraged to book online, as they will receive text message reminders, but telephone booking is also possible.
Walk-in appointments will be available “when it is safe to do so”, the committee heard.
Local watchdog Healthwatch Havering’s executive director Ian Buckmaster said he no longer has patients contacting “moaning about poor service or getting blood tests”.
He added: “Well done to those who put it together, because it has worked.”
At the time of the delays, NEL CCG, who decide how money is spent on community healthcare in north east London, said they were caused by a lack of funding and a backlog from handling the Covid pandemic.
Further detail on blood tests in north east London can be found by visiting northeastlondonccg.nhs.uk/your-health/blood-tests/.