In Bedford Borough, we have seen an increase in demand for patient blood test in recent months. This escalation in demand is due to patients returning to health services, GPs progressing with recovery of services which is impacting on the Phlebotomy service at Gilbert Hitchcock House, provided by Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic the Phlebotomy service provided by Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in Bedford was moved to Gilbert Hitchcock House (Bedford Hospital North wing), from the Cauldwell Centre (Bedford Hospital South wing). This decision was undertaken primarily to reduce the number of visitors on the main hospital site to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Given the volume of patients attending the walk in service, the Trust moved to an appointment based service to maintain social distancing and reduce the risk of the spread of infection.
Due to Infection and Prevention Control (IPC) Guidance, it is not possible to relocate the Phlebotomy service back to the Cauldwell Centre at the present time as the pre-pandemic estate is still not available at the capacity it once was.
As a solution to improve the service, Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group (BLMK CCG) is commissioning a temporary Phlebotomy service to be delivered at Bedford Heights which will be run by BEDOC working in partnership with Herts Community Trust. This facility will run for a 2-to-4-month period to bring down waiting times, and to allow Bedford Hospital to action some of their planned service improvements. The service will work alongside the COVID-19 vaccinations programme at Bedford Heights and utilise an area of the building that is currently not required for the vaccination programme, making effective use of the premises under contract for the provision of health services.
Bedford Heights will open to Bedford Borough GP practices to book blood-test appointments from Wednesday 2 March 2022. Appointments will be available from 9.00am – 12.45pm until Friday 4 March 2022. From Monday 7 March 2022 appointments will be available from 9.00am – 16.45pm. Patients will be advised by their GP Surgery which location they should attend when they are informed of the need for a blood test. There is no walk-in facility at Bedford Heights – all appointments must be booked in advance.