STEPS are being taken to cut waiting times for blood tests following complaints of two-hour delays at St Mary’s Hospital.
More GPs are being encouraged to take blood samples at their surgeries — currently, only half offer this service — and the number of pick-ups to take these samples to the hospital for testing has been increased.
Three new agency staff have been appointed to the pathology department’s phlebotomy (blood testing) service and funding is being sought for another permanent post, according to NHS bosses, responding to questions from healthcare watchdog the IW LINk.
Demand at the pathology department has increased in recent years, particularly from outpatients.
GPs referred 52,910 patients for blood tests in the 12 months to April, compared with 49,971 the previous year.
Associate director of the acute clinical directorate at the Isle of Wight NHS Trust, Donna Collins, speaking at this week’s meeting of the Isle of Wight Council’s health and community wellbeing scrutiny panel, said: "Waiting times in excess of two hours are obviously unacceptable and we are very concerned about the impact on patients’ experience.
"Those who are fasting often wait as long as two hours. Queues can be seen along the length of the corridor early in the morning."
She added: "This is something we are doing a lot of work on and we are making progress."
Proposals to extend the department’s opening hours to 6.30pm twice a week are under consideration, and electronic information screens with updated waiting times will be installed, said Mrs Collins.
It is unlikely appointments will be introduced as the current ticket system is efficient and popular with patients.