This evening's topic was phlebotomy, the taking of blood, and pathology, the testing of that blood. It was very interesting, especially the part where the manager told us that blood tests are done on the day the blood is taken and GPs are informed electronically as soon as the result is available: hence test results should be available for patients the next day, or within 48 hours at the latest, and not the situation my GP tells me. (I have a GP diabetic clinic in two weeks time and the surgery tells me I have to have a blood test at least two weeks before the clinic.)
At the end of the talk, the manager of the service moved onto to the topic of future developments, one of which was a domiciliary service. The conversation went like this:
Manager: We are looking into running a service where phlebotomists visit patients at home.Chair: Is this intended to be for housebound patients?Manager: Yes. However, there are some private plebotomists who provide the service for people who are not housebound - I think they charge about £15.Chair: There is no reason why we can't do that too. We could offer this service for those patients who would prefer to pay for the phlebotomist to visit them rather than them having to visit the hospital.What the Chair was saying was that visiting the hospital is not convenient for many people (the Trust is rural, so some people have to travel quite far to get there) but those people willing and able to pay a fee could get around this inconvenience. Those without the money would still have to have the inconvenience. A two-tiered service.
This is the effect of the Health and Social Care Act. Currently the Trust has no private patients. The Chair of the Trust is thinking like a businessman, looking for new income for the Trust. A couple of years ago he would not have voiced this idea because it was simply not acceptable for NHS hospitals to think about delivering a two-tiered service, yet the H&SCA has legitimised this type of thinking. It is a slippery slope.