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Thursday 30 November 2023 Dublin: 3°C
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blood test backlog

St Vincent's Hospital experiencing 'significant delays' in processing blood tests for GP patients

Staffing issues over the last three weeks has resulted in a backlog from the time the bloods are received in the lab to when the results are sent back to GPs.

STAFFING LEVELS AT St Vincent’s University Hospital has resulted in significant delays in processing routine bloods for GP patients, The Journal can confirm. 

A statement from the hospital group said that a backlog has developed in the laboratory. However, it added that urgent bloods are being processed as normal. 

Patients who attend their GP often have routine blood tests taken to monitor general health, check for an infection, and/or to assess organ function such as the liver and kidneys. 

The Journal understands that some GPs have been advised not to send any bloodwork from their patients until the new year because of the delays. 

The statement from the hospital group said it can confirm over the last three weeks there has been significant delays in processing routine bloods for GP patients “as a result of a backlog that has developed from the time the bloods are received in the laboratory to when the results are issued”.

“Current staffing challenges, both administrative and scientific in the laboratory have led to an increase in the turnaround time for blood samples from GP patients being processed.

“The hospital has notified GPs of the delays in processing and all urgent GP bloods continue to be processed as normal,” said the statement.

The hospital went on to say that there has been no impact on inpatient or outpatient blood sample processing, stating that the delays are currently in relation to processing routine bloods for GP patients only.

The hospital said it has deployed additional support to the laboratory to assist in processing the backlog and anticipates that the backlog will be cleared within the next two weeks with a significant improvement expected by next week.

The hospital processes in the region of 600-700 bloods for GP patients per day.

“St Vincent’s Hospital will continue to keep the GPs updated on any further changes,” it added. 

Sinn Féin’s health spokesperson said David Cullinane said: “Delays in getting blood tests responded to quickly can lead to a delayed diagnosis, delayed care and is distressing for patients.”

He said chronic staffing shortages are leading to delays in patients accessing care and services, criticising that the HSE only reached half of its planned recruitment target this year.

“These staff shortages means beds funded are not delivered, emergency departments are stretched beyond capacity and processing routine blood samples are now facing delays.

“We need a new workforce plan that substantially increases training places across many areas. It is also a fact that rising rents and the housing emergency is forcing more and more graduates and staff to emigrate which makes it more difficult to staff our health services,” said Cullinane. 

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