Long waits force Labtests to reassess staffing levels

By Martin Johnston

Long waits for some blood-test patients at Labtests have resumed after apparently easing for several days.

The company last night indicated some adjustments in staffing might be necessary to resolve the problem.

A disgruntled patient, Bruce Carter, said he was told at the company's Pukekohe collection centre yesterday morning that he would have to wait more than an hour for a blood test. The centre was full and several waiting patients had to stand.

"I feel that's too long. We've slipped back from where we were with the old company," said Mr Carter, aged 60.

Labtests is progressively taking over the Auckland regional community laboratory testing contract from its rival, Diagnostic Medlab (DML).

Tests taken in the Counties Manukau health district changed over on Monday last week, central Auckland switches next Monday, and Waitemata on September 7.

DML said patients at Labtests' Manurewa collection centre faced waits of two hours on Saturday morning and more than one hour on Friday afternoon. It is next door to DML's Manurewa centre, which remains open for patients having tests other than those funded by the region's three district health boards under the community laboratory contract.

Labtests' chief executive, Ulf Lindskog, last week guaranteed delays of one to two hours would not happen yesterday and said the new service's teething problems were abating.

Yesterday, he attacked DML for monitoring Labtests' queues. "They are just stirring the pot," Mr Lindskog said.

He said that when he visited the Manurewa centre at around 11am on Saturday, only five patients were waiting. The staff had not reported long delays.

Asked about Mr Carter's delay yesterday at Pukekohe, Mr Lindskog said: "Overall we are very happy with where the service is heading. In certain areas there might be tweaking to do in staff numbers."

- NZ Herald

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