Partners' News: New home blood service sees 500 patients during pandemic
Thursday 3rd September 2020
A new home blood testing service has seen 500 patients who are housebound, home restricted, or struggle to come into a practice because of mobility or social reasons.
A group of Sheffield GP practices known as HeeleyPlus Primary Care Network, which is made up of 9 GP practices covering 50,000 patients in the South East of the city, set up the phlebotomy service with funds from NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) during the pandemic.
Due to the pandemic, the numbers of home restricted patients increased dramatically as people needed to isolate and shield to protect their own health and that of others. Patients were also unable to access practices due to public transport restrictions and practices saw increased numbers of patients struggling to attend due to social situations or anxiety around the pandemic.
People who are housebound or home restricted often require more medical support due to their health and social situation. Alongside blood tests, the new service offers long term condition checks, medication reviews and investigations with the aim of preventing them becoming unwell. So far over 500 patients have been seen and the service sees around 70 people a week.
Andy Moore, practice manager at the Matthews Practice, which has two GP practices in Heeley Plus, said, “Due to an increase in home restricted patients because of Covid and funds available from NHS Sheffield CCG to support practices to respond to the pandemic, we launched the service. The service is making a real difference to patients and has become more than just a blood testing service.
“Staff have been able to identify where patients are struggling socially, with isolation, mental health or with care needs and have made referrals for them to see a GP or community service for additional support. A phlebotomist also built up such a positive relationship with a needle phobic patient that they were able to get a successful sample first time and increase the confidence and assurance of the patient for further visits”.
Mrs Dawson, a recent patient of the service said, “The staff were lovely, I am restricted to a mobility scooter so don’t get out much, especially in recent times, so I appreciated having a home visit and it was really nice for the staff to spend an extra five minutes brightening my day as they really cared.”
Ann Wright is a phlebotomist working for the primary care network. She said, “I feel privileged to do this job and love having the opportunity to make a difference to people’s lives during a difficult time. If I can go into someone’s life for a short time and leave them with a smile, it makes my job worthwhile.”
Dr Terry Hudsen, GP and Chair at NHS Sheffield CCG said, “It is positive to see how this new home visiting blood service is already making such a great difference to people who have are home restricted, especially those who may be struggling with their physical and mental health because of the pandemic. The service has been so successful that other primary care networks across the city are now looking at developing something similar in their areas so that more people across Sheffield can benefit.”
The service is now looking to expand to include wider health checks for long term condition checks such as diabetic foot checks and asthma inhaler techniques.
HeeleyPlus Primary Care Network is made up of 9 practices: The Mathews Practice – Belgrave & White Lane Medical Centres. Sharrow Medical Centre, Gleadless Medical Centre, Carrfield Medical Centre, Vertisas Medical Centre, Sloans Medical Centre, Totely Rise Medical Centre, Abbey Lane Medical Centre and Heeley Green Medical Centre.