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Royal Free Hospital: Patients wait hours for blood tests after Barnet GPs stop offering them in surgeries

PUBLISHED: 13:30 05 April 2019

The Royal Free Hospital. Picture: Ken Mears

The Royal Free Hospital. Picture: Ken Mears

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Queues for blood tests at the Royal Free Hospital are stretching down corridors because of excessive demand, it is claimed – after Barnet GPs stopped carrying out their own bloods work.

One patient from the borough queued for two hours on Monday morning after being told her GP was no longer collecting blood samples for tests.

It means that people in Barnet either have to attend the Royal Free walk-in clinic, or make pre-booked appointments elsewhere.

“This morning the queue was all the way down the corridor. There’s not enough chairs. It was a mess,” said the woman.

She also told this newspaper her gardener had visited a clinic last week and was so frustrated he left without giving a sample. The new system has been in place for several weeks, she was told by staff.

Amid the chaotic scenes, a member of staff at the Royal Free told her “it was terrible” and there was “nothing [we] can do”.

“I feel sorry for the staff,” she said.

In its most recent NHS England assessment, Barnet CCG was rated as “requiring improvement,” but this is believed to relate to the group’s financial position.

A spokesperson for the Royal Free NHS Trust told the Ham&High it had a “historic arrangement” with a small number of GP surgeries, providing blood tests without being paid.

The arrangement came to an end at the start of the month. It is no longer commissioned to provide blood test services at surgeries anywhere.

The spokesperson blamed the long waits on staff shortages, and said they were looking to recruit more clinicians.

They said: “We would like to apologise if any patients have experienced a long wait for a blood test at the Royal Free. There is currently a shortage of staff at this service and the trust is working hard to recruit additional clinicians to rectify this.

“Additionally, some GP practices stopped providing their own blood test service.”

A spokesperson for the CCG said: “In order to benefit all patients in Barnet, the CCG is working towards implementing a phlebotomy service which will be available to all patients registered with a Barnet CCG GP practice.

“This will improve the patient experience within primary care and improve outcomes.”

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