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Spalding hospital's phlebotomy service makes dramatic improvements

Phlebotomy staff at Johnson Community Hospital in Spalding are marking one year since the service undertook a series of improvements to drastically reduce waiting times for blood tests and increase the number of tests performed by 10,000 in just 12 months.

The blood clinic, run by Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust (LCHS), sees an average of 60 more patients per day, compared to 2018. In 2018 35,198 blood tests were performed and in 2019 this number increased to 44,799.

Three main improvements were made following feedback from patients and staff ideas. These were the relocation of the phlebotomy room to a larger space with a comfortable patient waiting area, the introduction of a drop-in service alongside the existing appointments system and an increase in the length of opening times for the appointments booking line.

The Phlebotomy Service Team, from left: Melissa Evans, Sharon Robinson, Donna Campion-Wood, Debbie Millson, Natalie Elves and Chris Hall.
The Phlebotomy Service Team, from left: Melissa Evans, Sharon Robinson, Donna Campion-Wood, Debbie Millson, Natalie Elves and Chris Hall.

Previously, patients had to ring to book an appointment for a blood test. However, phone lines were busy and the average waiting time was often 10 days for their test. There was no provision for blood tests on the same day, except for emergencies.

Since February 2019, patients have been able to drop in to the outpatients department for a blood test any time between 8am and 12.30pm, Monday to Friday. Patients who prefer to ring and book an appointment can do so, with availability usually offered for the next day, which is a 90% reduction in waiting times.

Feedback for the improved service has been very positive with patients benefitting from more flexibility and choice over when they attend for their blood test, often combining it with other clinical visits to the hospital.

Many patients can get a blood test immediately following a GP appointment, leading to quicker results, diagnosis, treatment plans and referrals. The number of booked appointments has also reduced dramatically from 1,909 in February 2019 to 460 in December 2019, as the majority of patients choose the walk-in service.

Sally Brown, clinical team lead for the outpatient department, said: “Since the introduction of the drop-in clinic, the phlebotomy service has grown dramatically. I’m delighted that we are now offering a faster, more efficient service to the patients of South Holland, as we continue to perform more blood tests every month.”

The improvements in the blood test service and hard work of the staff were recognised at two award ceremonies last year. Johnson Community Hospital phlebotomy staff achieved runner up in the Clinical Team of the Year categories at both LCHS’ staff awards and at the Lincolnshire Healthcare Awards.

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