Reducing travel for blood tests used for Radiotherapy Planning

Rachel McLean
Rachel McLean • 8 March 2024

Project completed as part of the 2023-4 Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust Green Team Competition.

Team members

Setting / patent group: Radiotherapy/Oncology


The Radiotherapy contrast procedure (Radiotherapy, 2023) states that patients should have an estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) of >45ml/min/1.73m² before a contrast scan, and so each patient requires an up-to-date blood test. It was identified that patients who required this test were travelling to the hospital for an additional appointment to have their bloods taken in radiology. This practice had come about from the covid19 pandemic, when radiographers were trained to take bloods, to avoid patients attending blood-taking units, reducing risk of infection. However, this practice was now not the most convenient for patients or staff, and could be prevented with patients a) having bloods taken in at the hospital blood-taking unit on the same day as their consultant appointment or b) having bloods taken at another centre closer to home (if they had a virtual consultant appointment or an appointment more than 30 days before their scan – too early for bloods).


The Consultant Clinical Oncologists and clinic-trained radiographers who conduct clinic consultations were engaged. An introductory email to the project aims, baseline findings, proposed changes and benefits was sent. We requested that all patients who require contrast bloods are sent directly from their clinic consultation to their blood test.  At Northampton General Hospital this is possible as Oncology patients are allowed to walk into the blood taking department at any time for a blood test (i.e. don’t need an appointment). The request was re-iterated at Radiotherapy Consultant Meetings. 

For patients who will still require travel, we reviewed local options. As some GPs will not conduct blood tests, we researched local centres and hospitals blood taking policies for different areas of the county, so we had this information available for patients moving forward. 


For patients who could have bloods straight after their consultation, we saved 191.3 miles for the 2-week period, equating to 4,973.8 miles per year or 1,684.1 kgCO2e.

If the changes to patients attending more local centres is maintained, we will almost double the annual saving, with an additional 183 miles, or 1,610 kgCO2e saved.

Our changes will streamline the patient journey and make blood tests more convenient. Patients may have small financial savings from reduced travel costs.

Radiotherapy staff will save approximately 27 hours per year from reduced blood taking, which can be redirected to higher value work.

Key learning point 

The initial learning about SusQI and what area can have the biggest impact helped us focus our research in an area we had not thought of looking at. 

Resource author(s)
Rachel Tighe (Therapy Radiographer), Hayley Hall (Therapy Radiographer), Deborah Chapman (Therapy Radiographer), Peter Goldie (Radiotherapy Physicist)
Resource publishing organisation(s) or journal
Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust
Resource publication date
March 2024

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