Staff at Horsham Hospital have been subjected to ‘rude and aggressive’ behaviour from patients facing long waits for blood tests.
Now a public plea has gone out to patients amid a warning of ‘zero tolerance’ of abuse to NHS staff.
Health chiefs say that patients sometimes become aggressive during busy periods when they are asked to return the following day for blood tests.
The phlebotomy service operates between 8am - 3.45 pm on Mondays to Fridays. But staff say they cannot guarantee that patients arriving after 3pm will be seen that day as it depends on the numbers of people already waiting.
A senior member of the Horsham and Mid Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group - in an email to GP surgeries seen by the County Times - advises: “To try to avoid disappointment patients should be advised to arrive before 3pm as the wait time can be extremely long.
“They should also be informed that due to the unpredictability of patient volume, the service can’t always guarantee that they will be seen. The department must close promptly at 15.45 as the blood samples from the afternoon clinic are transported to the laboratory at East Surrey at 16:00. No more samples can be taken after this time.
“Sadly some patients that have been asked to return another day have become extremely rude and aggressive towards the phlebotomy staff which I’m sure you’d agree is unacceptable.”
Horsham Hospital patient representative Lilian Bold said: “There is zero tolerance of abuse of NHS Staff where ever it comes from.”
And a spokesman for the Clinical Commissioning Group added: “Patients are advised to arrive before 3pm, because this is a busy service and the wait time can vary. Staff cannot guarantee patients who arrive after 3pm will be seen.
“While a patient may find it frustrating to be asked to come back another day please be reminded that staff should be treated with respect.”