From 1 March, patients are able to go to any of 29 clinics, including 22 GP surgeries and branch surgeries across the Towns, to have their blood samples taken for testing. A further 11 surgeries and branch surgeries can take blood samples for their own patients.
This is a radical opening up of the service. Previously, around 20 GP practices offered a blood taking service for their own patients but none routinely offered the service to patients registered with other practices. The majority of people in Medway attended clinics run by Medway NHS Foundation Trust or Medway Community Healthcare.
The change is being made at the request of patients. When NHS Medway asked people needing regular blood tests where they would like them to be provided, as part of its drive to improve local health services, the overwhelming majority favoured GP practices. They said it would improve convenience and cut down on travelling times.
"Thousands of people in Medway need blood tests regularly, perhaps to monitor their cholesterol, or their response to medication such as Warfarin," said NHS Medway project manager Tracy Bishop.
"Others may need a one-off blood test, to assist in making a diagnosis".
"We asked patients what they felt would improve the existing service and they said more clinics and shorter waiting times. Waiting can be particularly difficult for patients who have to avoid eating or drinking overnight before a blood sample is taken".
"Patients asked for blood taking services to be provided at GP practices, and we are delighted that more than a third of GP practices in Medway are offering this new service, with some practices offering it in more than one location".
"This will ensure much wider choice for people."
The service provided by Medway NHS Foundation Trust at Medway Maritime Hospital will continue. However, its satellite clinics at Rochester Healthy Living Centre in Delce Road, and Keystone Centre in Strood are ceasing.
Some locations offer a drop-in service, while others are by appointment only. Full details are available by visiting our blood test services in Medway page.