"Unacceptable Blood test waiting time for INR test"

About: Christchurch Hospital

Real problems today when I arrived for my Warfarin blood test (which must be done before 12 midday) at 9.50 am. Both waiting rooms were full to overflowing, people were standing in the inner and outer corridors. I managed to find a seat and eventually managed to be seen at 11.55 am. The man sitting next to me told me that on Friday he arrived at 10 am for his Warfarin blood test, was called at in at 1pm, only to be refused the test as it had gone midday. After waiting 3 hours he was naturally upset, and asked why a staff member could have advised that the time was up, was directed to a small notice on the wall. He came back today Monday, at 9.20, and finally got seen at 11.45 am. One elderly lady was in tears at having to wait over 2 hours, and not be seen. Apparently, of the normal 5 duty staff, one was off sick, one on holiday; and no relief staff were available due to financial constraints near to the end of the financial year. Many of the people who had been waiting hours for their Warfarin test, were likely to be turned away at midday. Absolutely disgraceful, patients suffering because of poor management.

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Response from Christchurch Hospital

Dear ‘Wessex models’

We are sorry to hear that your recent visit to our Phlebotomy service at Christchurch was marred by long delays and did not meet the standards we aspire to or expect for our patients.

You raised a number of comments about staffing levels due to sickness and annual leave and also budget constraints so I felt it appropriate to raise these with the Phlebotomy manager who also expressed her regret for the delays and poor experience you had.

She has asked me to share her response with you after reviewing your comments.

“It is unfortunate that on this occasion the service was experiencing unplanned leave due to illness and this heavily impacted the service on the day in question. We work continuously to minimise any detriment to the service through sick leave by promoting a healthy work life balance and supporting our staff in returning to work whilst they are away and immediately following their absence on return to work. Where available support staff are brought into the department.

Unfortunately the department on this occasion was also busier than normal which exacerbated the effect of staff absence.

Christchurch outpatient’s temporary phlebotomy department is based in a single room therefore space is limited for this walk in service.

Overall the service has observed a steep and rapid growth as a result of changing trends in pathology requesting. In order to cope with this demand we are exploring a booked appointment service that will result in shorter waits on the day. We have also been encouraging GPs to take back the service so that patients do not have to attend hospital for the majority of blood tests. We have negotiated with several individual practices on reverting to this model and will continue these discussions with GPs this year. Warfarin tests can be performed every day and at any time. Before 09:50 and also before 11:00 it applies only for Christchurch because of the van rounds. However the blood tests take up to half an hour in the analyser if it is urgent, for routine monitoring up to 2 hrs. In any case the test can be performed in both Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals and the results can be obtained the same day. Patients who have missed their turn up time in Christchurch can always come to Bournemouth outpatients department the same day.

There is natural turnover in the workforce and where there is vacancy we are actively recruiting into these posts – any staff shortage is therefore unrelated to financial constrains near to the end of financial year.

We recognise that not all patients’ experiences are the same but we make every effort to offer a safe smooth patient journey when they attend one of our hospitals”.

If you have any concerns on future visits the Phlebotomy Manager will be happy to discuss them with you or alternatively you could contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALs) on 01202 704886


Sue Mellor

Head of Patient Engagement

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