Royal Free Hospital: Four hour blood test wait for patients - as trust says to avoid peak times

Part of the queue for blood tests at the Royal Free Hospital, on Tuesday.

Part of the queue for blood tests at the Royal Free Hospital, on Tuesday. - Credit: Archant

The Royal Free Hospital has asked patients needing blood tests to avoid peak times, as it struggles to cope with an increase in demand.

The Royal Free Hospital. Picture: Ken Mears

The Royal Free Hospital. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

On Tuesday one patient arrived at the hospital in Pond Street for her test, only to be told she had a four hour wait ahead of her. In the end, she managed to get her sample taken in just over three hours and 15 minutes. However Marie, from South Hampstead, was still unhappy and described patients being treated "like cattle."

She said: "It's like a cattle market. I've come several times in the last week and gone away because it's taken so long.

"It's not the staff's fault, they've been as helpful as they can be - but there's not enough places to sit, there's people on crutches having to stand up. It's not good enough."

In April, the Ham&High reported that patients were having to wait two hours after some GP surgeries in Barnet and Camden stopped offering tests.

At the time, the Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust said it was trying to recruit extra clinicians to carry out the tests.

However, the waiting times have since almost doubled, according to Marie.

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"The staff have been exceptionally helpful and nice in the circumstances. We're all having to stand out in the corridor. It's absolutely disgusting expecting people to wait so long for a blood test," she said.

A spokesperson for the Royal Free acknowledged the increased demand.

They said: "There has been a recent and significant increase in demand for this service and we are looking to understand all of the reasons for this.

"The Royal Free Hospital is the only provider in the local area offering a walk-in service for blood tests rather than appointments and due to waits at other hospitals and clinics, more patients are attending the Royal Free Hospital. This has coincided with a shortage of staff at this service at the RFH and we are working hard to recruit additional clinicians to rectify this.

"The busiest times at the RFH are Mondays and Tuesdays and every day at 7.30am and we are asking patients to try to avoid these times if possible."

The spokesperson also said that other testing sites were available at Barnet Hospital, Chase Farm Hospital or Edgware Community Hospital, and appointments can be booked on the Royal Free website.