UPDATE: as a result of the campaign two doctor’s surgeries in our area, one in Doddington and one in Chatteris, have received enough donations to buy a new blood testing machine. This shows what a fantastic community spirit we have in Fenland and that people in this area are willing to help themselves.
“Patients are sent to hospital too often. We certainly found it much better to carry out blood tests at the surgery rather than sending patients to a Minor Injuries Unit or hospital. It would be beneficial for each practice to have its own machine” Dr Simon Hambling, Doddington GP
Currently local GPs can take blood for tests but have to send these to the nearest hospital for the blood test results. If GPs were able to get the blood test results more quickly, this would guide their decision-making for the patient and avoid unnecessary referrals to hospital.
For example, a patient suspected of suffering a blood clot (deep vein thrombosis) will currently be referred straight to hospital. The certainty offered by a blood test machine – costing £1,200 – would enable the GP to only refer those cases where the results confirmed a positive diagnosis. This saves the patient an unnecessary journey, and the NHS the cost of an ambulance and hospital admission. Doddington Medical Centre successfully made use of the COBAS machine, made by Roche, which can be used for tests which can rule out conditions such as deep vein thrombosis. The Princess of Wales Hospital in Littleport use this machine, as do several Whittlesey practices, avoiding hospital admissions in the process. In addition, because hospitals do not usually process blood tests for non-emergency cases in extended hours (after 6.30pm, before 8am, or Saturday mornings), a patient in work who wants to take advantage of GP extended hours for an appointment without taking time off work has to instead come back for a GP appointment in work time. This is because the GP cannot get the blood tests locally, and the hospital will not process them during the extended hours.
The inconvenience to the patient, and the cost to the NHS of an unnecessary hospital referral or second GP appointment could be avoided if GPs had access to blood testing machines in the GP surgery.
We call on the Health and Wellbeing Board as part of its remit to address health inequality to prioritise the funding of near patient blood testing equipment within North East Cambridgeshire.