Cornwall GP practise creates UK's first drive-thru blood testing facility at local Costa

5 minute read
Cornwall GP practise creates UK's first drive-thru blood testing facility at local Costa

Published at 4:01pm 10th April 2020. (Updated at 7:25am 14th April 2020)

A nurse practitioner at a GP surgery in Penzance has come up with an ingenious idea to help those who are in need of vital blood tests. 

Tracey Hemborough, who's also a practice partner at St. Clare Medical Centre, came up with the idea to create the country's first drive-thru blood test clinic at a local coffee shop. 

It comes after GP surgeries across the country are having to cut back on services to adhere to the current government guidelines on social distancing during the coronavirus lockdown.

The facility caters to those who are in need of regular blood tests such as those who take the blood-thinning drug, Warfarin. 

"A lot of patients take this drug and It's a drug that needs regular monitoring as it can vary from week to week.

"It's a blood test finger prick which is incredibly easy to do and under normal circumstances, those people would be coming into the building which is something that we desperately want to avoid at the moment; the less social interaction the better."

"Tracey came up with the idea saying 'why don't we have a drive-thu'... she said 'why don't we speak to someone who does drive-thru for a living and does it well and has got a facility that is currently closed."

Dr Matthew Boulter, Practice partner 

 The practise got in touch with the manager of the Costa Penzance Drive-Thru at Eastern Green via Facebook, who readily agreed to help following its closure and the branch’s staff being furloughed.

Costa’s regional manager immediately gave the company’s full support to the novel blood clinic idea and on Tuesday the manager and assistant manager of the branch – the busiest in Cornwall – opened up and turned off the alarms, before nursing staff arrived, kitted out in face masks.

Blood drive-thru
Blood drive-thru

Before the new drive-thru clinic, St Clare Medical Centre and its pharmacy were inundated with patients with "queues out the door" and patients becoming "hostile" after waiting for two hours for prescriptions. 

The local rugby team, the Cornish Pirates, got in contact and offered to help with security at the pharmacy to make sure people were queuing two metres apart. 

“With rugby having been wound up a few weeks ago, I had contact with Matthew and asked him whether there was anything I or we can do to help out.

"The reply, initially, was could we help at the pharmacy at St. Clare, which we have done by marshalling the queues and encouraging people to keep to recommended social distancing.

"In trying to help keep the public, the pharmacy staff and ourselves safe by voluntarily providing a worthy service, it has worked well."

Simon Edwards, Physiotherapist at Cornish Pirates Rugby Union Team

Blood drive-thru
Cornish Pirate marshalling the drive-thru

They also provide security at the drive-thru to ensure anyone turning up for a coffee is politely turned away.

“There is also a feeling that by having young, fit and conscientious guys present it reassures people, therefore we have been delighted to extend this to the Costa Drive-Thru temporary blood test clinic – including politely turning away people who think it is open still for a coffee!”

“We will also be looking to support other initiatives and indeed anything else in whatever way we can in support of the community.”

Simon Edwards

"We ran it [the drive-thru] for the first time yesterday (Tuesday) and we saw 50 patients to check that it all worked and it went incredibly well.

"The patients love that it is incredibly convenient. You drive up at the order board...with one of our admin girls inside who take your name and your date of birth, you then drive round to the window...stick your finger out to one of the nurses who have masks on etc, they do the pin prick then they make a note of all the blood tests and send those through to that patients practise and they sort the dosing out by the end of the day by telephone."

Dr Matthew Boulter

Dr Boulter said Costa has now had a lot of interest nationally and would like to thank Tracey, Costa Coffee and the Cornish Pirates for helping out and being '"fantastic honorary members of the practise."










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