Why Test study protocol: a UK-wide audit using the Primary Care Academic CollaboraTive (PACT) to explore the reasons for primary care testing


BNSSG ICB Research Capability Funding­­.

What is the research question?

The number of blood tests done in GP surgeries has been increasing but this is without a clear increase is illnesses being diagnosed.

It is estimated that one-quarter of tests may not be necessary. This study will collect data from GP practices across the UK on why blood tests are done and how the results are used. This will help identify priority areas for future research to improve testing in the community.

What is the problem?

It is estimated that at least 25% of pathology tests are unnecessary. This creates a significant workload for GPs, costs for the NHS and potential worry for patients.

Fewer unnecessary blood tests being carried out is often cited as an aim for the NHS.  To do this, we need to understand the reason for the blood tests being ordered as well as the test results.

The Primary care Academic CollaboraTive (PACT) is a new initiative which aims to build the capacity of UK primary care research through engagement of trainees, GPs and other health professionals in high-quality research focussed on improving patient care. This network offers a unique opportunity to gain data which cannot be obtained from electronic health record research including reasons for blood testing and the effects of blood tests in primary care.

Work in BNSSG Integrated Care Board to improve blood testing for chronic disease monitoring and inflammatory marker testing has led to a significant reduction in testing. However, it is unclear how best to continue this work, and which areas of testing should next be addressed. This pilot project will help address this question by exploring the reasons for blood testing, in order to develop future research and quality improvement projects.

What is the aim of the research?

The aim of this research is to explore who orders blood tests and why, and how test results are actioned in primary care.

How will this be achieved?

The Primary care Academic CollaboraTive (PACT), a UK-wide network of primary care health professionals, will be utilised to collect data from individual practices. PACT members will be asked to review the electronic health records of 50 patients who had recent blood tests in their practice, and manually extract anonymised data on who requested the test, the indication, the result, and subsequent actions. Data will also be collected from PACT members to assess the feasibility of the collaborative model.

Who is leading the research?

Dr Jessica Watson, GP and NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer at the University of Bristol.

Further information

About Dr Jessica Watson

The Why Test website

For more information or to get involved with this project, please contact bnssg.research@nhs.net.