Friday 25 January 2019


Yesterday I had a GP check up followed by a blood test on the way home.  It's the first time in many years that I've been to the blood test place - since I got sick, all my blood tests have been home visits.

I was pretty shocked by what I saw.

Over these past years I've thought a lot about accessibility as I've more and more come to see myself as a person with a disability.  I think the blood test place was very 'accessible' if you limit that word to meaning 'wheelchair accessible'.  However, I live in an area with a high migrant population, and I was shocked by how inaccessible it was for someone not that fluent in written English.

When I arrived there was no one to greet you - just a cluttered unmanned desk with a computer screen turned to face you.  On the screen was the instruction to take an arrival card, scan it in the barcode scanner and take a seat.  There were no pictures.  On the desk was a small basket labelled 'arrival cards' along with an awful lot of clutter.

When I saw that I took a card, had a wee think, realised there was a sleek black object amongst the clutter, wondered if that was a barcode scanner, held my card up to it and was rewarded with a beep.

However, I was pretty sure that the woman who had been trying to figure the system out as I arrived hadn't got it right - I hadn't heard a beep before she sat down.

I wasn't sure what to do, so did nothing.  When a couple of staff showed up and were surprised to see two people waiting, I identified myself as the one with the scanned card, but said that the other lady was there before me.  She got told off for not scanning her card, was taken over to have it scanned (who knows why?  Maybe it's not just a queuing device, maybe that staff member just likes things done properly), all without explanation despite her clearly looking confused about the whole thing.  The few words she did speak were quite strongly accented, so I presume her English hadn't been up to making sense of the written instructions on the computer monitor.  At least she was eventually seen - who knows what would have happened if the waiting room had been full so it was less obvious there was one person too many?

The whole thing felt insane.  The office was super un-welcoming, and anyone with poor English, an intellectual disability or a visual impairment simply can't enter the queuing process.  And yet it would seem easy to fix.  A large poster with a picture of the cards, a picture of the barcode scanner and pictures of what to do with them would make a world of difference to all those groups of people.  Labeling the barcode scanner and getting rid of all the clutter would help, too.

I kind-of want to complain (especially as I presume this is standard practise for 'Labtest' offices, rather than peculiar to this branch) and offer to make a poster for them, but I'm leery of taking on commitments right now and don't really want the bother.  I may at least do the 'complaining' part...

The actual blood test wasn't much fun, either.   I've always had terrible veins (my record is 16 needle pricks for a blood sample, and I was frequently turned away when I used to donate blood as they won't do more than 2), but for the last 16 years all my blood tests have been home visits.  I'd given up mentioning my veins were bad as it was extremely rare for them not to get blood on the first go, although I'd always suspected that was because only the best phlebotomists get to do home visits, rather than because my veins had changed.  Yesterday that theory was confirmed :-(  I warned them of the problem just in case, and they started with the narrow butterfly needles, but it still took four needle pricks (each of which involved lots of wiggling around to try and pierce the vein, and two of which were in my hands) from two different phlebotomists before they finally got blood out.  I want Irfan (my home visit guy) back!

1 comment:

  1. Heather, what you experienced is completely normal in Labtest offices. A complaint about accessability would be absolutely warrented. M