The Southern Trust has launched a new drive through blood testing service, reducing the need for patients to attend hospital.
Phlebotomy which is the procedure to take blood, usually from a vein in the arm, is used to diagnose many medical conditions. Patients are often asked to go for a blood test with the Phlebotomy service at a hospital or clinic before they attend an outpatient appointment.
Melanie McClements, Director of Acute Services for the Trust explains the new drive through approach: “Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been doing everything we can to reduce footfall in our clinical facilities to prevent the potential spread and reduce the risk of infection to vulnerable patients.
“We have been exploring new ways to avoid hospital attendance when at all possible, for example by developing a wide range of virtual clinics where clinicians use telephone or video technology for patient consultations.
“The drive through Phlebotomy service is another creative way of making sure that patients can continue with important diagnosis and treatment.”
Suitable patients are invited to attend for their blood test at the new drive through Phlebotomy base which is currently being piloted on the St Luke’s Hospital site, Armagh.
The Phlebotomist wearing appropriate PPE takes the blood sample, from either passenger or driver, without them having to leave the safety of their car. Samples are then sent to the laboratory as usual and clinicians follow up with the patient as required.
Melanie adds: “While helping with social distancing by significantly reducing traffic on hospital sites, the efficiency of this new system allows us to undertake more blood tests than we normally would have in the same time. Most importantly, it is proving very safe and convenient for patients, whilst making sure they receive the diagnosis and treatment they need.”
It is hoped that following the pilot, the service will be extended to an additional two locations – for the Newry and Mourne and Craigavon and Banbridge localities.