Point of care testing transforms Clozapine service

2. The blood testing equipment
The blood testing equipment

A new service that revolutionises the way that patients who are prescribed the antipsychotic drug Clozapine receive their medication was launched at the Bexleyheath Centre on 9 November.

News item: Clozapine clinic
The Clozapine Clinic at the Bexleyheath Centre. Left to right: Bimpe Idowu, Julia Ives, Joe Torap, Pam Sharma, Sarah Littlejohn, Bob Vreeland

The Clozapine Clinic runs every Tuesday and has a case load of around 70-80 patients. It tests each patients’ blood, dispenses their medication if safe to do so and checks their general health - all in one visit.

The pilot scheme – a joint initiative between the Recovery Team and the Pharmacy - is the first of its kind in Oxleas and will be evaluated in February 2012 after which, if deemed successful, it will be rolled out across the trust.  Project leads are Julia Ives, Practice Development Nurse and Jonathan West, Clinical Director, Adult Complex Needs and Recovery Service, and Bimpe Idowu, Pharmacist. Julia explains that the new service is thanks to one very clever piece of kit. “A blood sample is taken from each patient and this is instantly tested by a blood analysing machine. There are three possible results: green, amber and red.  Green shows that medication can be dispensed, amber indicates the results need to be discussed with a doctor and red means medication cannot be given. The blood tests are essential as they are required to ascertain that there is no abnormality of the blood cell count, which ensures that Clozapine is safe to be given.”

Before the new service could be introduced, nurses Sarah Littlejohn and Joe Torap received two days training on the high-tech equipment. They are the only people allowed to use the machine and are specially registered to do so. 

For patients, the great advantage of the new service is that the whole process has been streamlined and made more comfortable. Julia again: “In the past, patients had to go to their local pathology service for a blood test. For people living in Bexley this meant a trip to Queen Mary’s Hospital, Sidcup. Results took 24 hours and these were sent to Oxleas’ Pharmacy and then to us. As tests need to be carried out at intervals of two to four weeks, this could be fairly onerous for patients. Now we are able to offer ‘point of care’ testing where all this is done in one short visit. The service is also delivered in local surroundings that are familiar to the patients by staff that they know, so it’s far more responsive to their needs. “

When patients have been tested they proceed to an adjoining room for health checks. Julia believes this all adds up to an improved, more joined up service: “Patients are weighed, their blood pressure is taken and any side-effects are monitored. This is a more coherent way of working which improves the patient experience and delivers time saving efficiencies.”

Published on 9th November 2011