Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust has apologised after the launch of a new phone line for booking blood tests across south east London has caused many “unnecessary stress and anxiety.”

The new ‘Blood Test Call Centre’ was set up last month for Greenwich and Bexley residents after walk-in services were closed in response to the pandemic.

Blood tests are now appointment-only at either Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Queen Mary’s Hospital, Erith Hospital or Lewisham Community Hospital.

The new system has one dedicated phone number for patients to call to book a blood test appointment, but the service has been plagued by a number of “teething issues.”

Frustrated residents have complained of waiting on hold for over an hour, whilst others have said they were at the end of the waiting list when the line would just cut out.

Several people have been in touch with the News Shopper, such as Julia Bruce who said queues on the phone line had reached several hours long. She was then cut off from the line twice.

Julia said “trying to get blood tests booked in the Bexleyheath area has become virtually impossible.”

News Shopper:

A spokesperson for Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust said they were “very sorry for the problems” with the new blood test phone line, and apologised for any inconvenience caused.

“To keep patients safe during the Covid-19 pandemic, we have had to change from a walk-in to a booked service, and we are experiencing exceptionally high call volumes.

“We are aware that people have had to hold on for unacceptably long periods of time, or have been cut off unexpectedly, for which we apologise.

"To address these issues, we have more than doubled the number of call handlers and are putting in place a technical fix to prevent people from being cut off.”

The spokesperson added: “We have also launched an online form on our website through which people can request a blood test. Once we’ve received the completed form, we will contact people to arrange an appointment.”

Local resident Maria Heath also expressed her “dissatisfaction” in trying to book a blood test for her husband last week after she rang up and found herself 192 in the queue.

Exactly an hour later she was number 22 when she was cut off. This was then repeated twice more with the same result.

Maria said: “This needs to change with utmost urgency to alleviate the unnecessary stress and anxiety it is causing people who are genuinely ill.”