As hospitals and GPs in England are being forced to ration blood tests while the NHS struggles to cope with a shortage of plastic sample bottles, one GP surgery in Walsall has asked patients who require a blood test to bring their own bottle.
The surgery’s Practice Manager said, “We decided to ask patients to bring a bottle along if they need a blood test, as we didn’t want to turn away anyone who may be ill. There are several bottles that patients may already have at home that are suitable for blood tests, such as the little bottles that food flavourings like vanilla extract come in. However, we do advise patients to wash the bottle thoroughly before bringing it to the surgery, as food flavourings can have a high sugar content, and an unclean bottle could lead to a false diagnosis of diabetes.
Food colourings also come in similar small bottles, but again we do ask patients to make sure the bottle is clean, as bright green blood is always a worry. Miniature whiskey bottles can also be used, although if not properly washed beforehand they could lead to a false diagnosis of cirrhosis of the liver. And as one of our GPs is rather fond of a tipple, if we leave any of those lying around there is a strong chance those samples might not even make it to the lab.
“To be honest, with the risk of catching Covid at the surgery, extremely long NHS waiting lists, and shortages of essential medical supplies, the best advice we can give to patients at the moment is - don’t get ill!”