BLOOD TESTS

Further information and frequently asked questions about blood tests at Willows Health

I have had a virtual appointment and I have been advised to book a blood test. What happens from here?

The clinician will send a message to our friendly patient liaison officers to book you in for a blood test. The clinician will often know whether this is something ‘urgent’ or ‘routine’ and the timing of the blood test will be directed by the clinician. We aim to have all routine blood tests completed within 2 weeks of them being ordered. Urgent blood tests have a one-week timeframe to be completed. If there are circumstances were a blood test is required as sooner, then our clinicians work with the system to ensure the blood test is taken at the right time.

If you have been advised to book a blood test, we recommend that you call the GP surgery in the afternoon to book a blood test appointment with your diary handy.

Why do we need blood tests?

Blood tests are diagnostic tools. They help clinicians diagnose your health or illness by analysing the chemical content of and markers in your blood. There are some broad reasons listed below as to why a blood test may be ordered by your Doctor.

  1. Precision – blood tests can give a precise measurement of your body’s health. For example, checking the average sugar level over the last three months in patients who have diabetes can tell us what treatment options are available, and also help clinicians recommend additional lifestyle changes when they see fluctuations in sugar levels.

  2. Organ Health – blood tests allow us to accurately assess how well key organs are working. For example, people diagnosed with a may require monitoring of liver function through blood tests.

  3. Infections and other illnesses – blood tests help provide an objective assessment as to whether a disease is present or not. This is often taken in the context of a clinical assessment.

  4. Drug dosage and effectiveness – blood tests may be needed to ensure the drug you are taking is at a safe level, and/or helping the condition you are being treated for.

What happens after the blood test appointment?

It can take as little as 1 day to have some blood test results available. Some blood test results will take much longer and up to 10 days. Sometimes, there is a stagger in the way blood tests are received and it may not be entirely possible to predict exactly how long it takes for a blood test to arrive. When the blood test arrives into our ‘inbox’ our Doctors will file them. They will be filed in the following way. This is what each parameter means.

Borderline

A borderline test result means the test is at the cusp of being abnormal. The best way to describe this is a car going at 31mph instead of under 30mph in a residential area. It may not be abnormal and can be explained by the clinical picture.

Depending on the type of borderline result, the practice will communicate the result to patients either by using a text message, a phone call from the patient liaison officer, or a follow up virtual appointment with a clinician.

Abnormal but expected

An abnormal test which is expected. An example of this may be a person who has diabetes who has a known abnormality in their sugar level. Depending on the type of abnormal but expected result, the practice may communicate the result to patients. Often as these results are expected no further action is necessary.

Abnormal

An abnormal test results suggests the investigation is not within the normal parameters expected for a particular patient. This may not be anything to worry about. There are lots of test results we perform in General Practice, and an abnormal result does not mean there is anything urgently wrong. Only 2-3% of abnormal results indicate something seriously wrong which would normally cause worry to the patient. Our friendly patient liaison officers may speak to you about the result. The filing Doctor will decide if a further consultation is required. The Doctor could instigate several actions at the point of filling your blood result and send you a text message in relation to this.

I have had an abnormal blood test, but my telephone appointment is two weeks away. Isn’t this too long to wait?

We will endeavor to speak to you at the first available opportunity. However, most results are ‘routine’ and do not require any urgent or immediate action. If there is a blood test which is abnormal and requires urgent or immediate action, the filing Doctor will organise a telephone consultation and mitigating actions straight away. This could mean a 999 call, a direct hospital admission, further investigations, or a referral.

What are your blood test results telling you?

There are lots of blood tests. Often blood results need to be looked at through a complex lens which requires years of medical training to get right. There are different type of blood tests, and the results often come back with technical terms and numerical results in various formats.

Click here to find out about different types of blood tests