Tests and Results
Please remember that the receptionists can only act in accordance with the clinician’s instructions so may not be able to give you the result. This does not necessarily mean that there is a problem but simply that the clinician needs to see you or speak to you to explain the whole situation.
Results can only be given to someone other than the patient if previously arranged with the clinician or we have had this instruction in writing.
The results of tests carried out during hospital visits are not normally sent to the practice and you should be informed of these by the hospital.
How long do test results normally take?
- Blood Tests – results can be back anything between 1-7 days depending on complexity of test. Normally results are back within 3 working days on average.
- Urine Test – results are normally back within 3-4 working days.
- Smear Test – results are normally back within 8 weeks.
- X-Ray – as these are normally done at hospital, it can take up to 3 weeks for them to come back to the practice. However, results are back within 10 working days on average.
Viewing your test results online (Bushey & Watford only)
The quickest and easiest way to view your test results is via online services using Patient Access saving you the need to call the practice. Please note that test results will only be available online once they have been checked by a clinician.
Blood tests have a wide range of uses and are one of the most common types of medical test.
For example, a blood test can be used to:
- assess your general state of health
- check if you have an infection
- see how well certain organs, such as the liver and kidneys, are working
- screen for certain genetic conditions
Most blood tests only take a few minutes to complete and are carried out at your GP surgery or local hospital by a doctor, nurse or phlebotomist (a specialist in taking blood samples).
Read about some common types of blood test.
For more information about a wider range of tests, search the blood test A-Z index on Lab Tests Online UK.
Preparing for a blood test
The healthcare professional who arranges your blood test will tell you whether there are any specific instructions you need to follow before your test.
For example, depending on the type of blood test, you may be asked to:
- avoid eating or drinking anything (fasting) apart from water, for up to 12 hours – read more about eating and drinking before having a blood test
- stop taking certain medicines
It’s important to follow the instructions you’re given, as it may affect the result of the test and mean it needs to be delayed or carried out again.
What happens during a blood test?
A blood test usually involves taking a blood sample from a blood vessel in your arm.
The arm is a convenient part of the body to use because it can be easily uncovered. The usual place for a sample to be taken from is the inside of the elbow or wrist, where the veins are relatively close to the surface.
Blood samples from children are often taken from the back of the hand. Their skin may be numbed with a special spray or cream before the sample is taken.
A tight band (tourniquet) is usually put around your upper arm. This squeezes the arm, temporarily slowing down the flow of blood and causing the vein to swell. This makes it easier for a sample to be taken.
Before taking the sample, the doctor or nurse may clean the area of skin with an antiseptic wipe.
A needle attached to a syringe or special container is inserted into the vein. The syringe is used to draw out a sample of your blood. You may feel a slight pricking or scratching sensation as the needle goes in, but it shouldn’t be painful. If you don’t like needles and blood, tell the person who is taking the sample so they can make you more comfortable.
When the sample has been taken, the tourniquet will be released, and the needle will be removed. Pressure is applied to the skin for a few minutes using a cotton-wool pad. A plaster may be put on the small wound to keep it clean.
After the test
Only a small amount of blood is taken during the test so you shouldn’t feel any significant after-effects.
However, some people feel dizzy and faint during and after the test. If this has happened to you in the past, tell the person carrying out the test so they’re aware and can help you feel more comfortable.
After the test, you may have a small bruise where the needle went in. Bruises can be painful, but are usually harmless and fade over the next few days.
Blood test results
After the blood sample has been taken, it will be put into a bottle and labelled with your name and details. It will then be sent to a laboratory where it will be examined under a microscope or tested with chemicals, depending on what’s being checked.
The results are sent back to the hospital or to your GP. Some test results will be ready the same day or a few days later, although others may not be available for a few weeks. You’ll be told when your results will be ready and how you’ll be given them.
- organ function (kidney or other)
- infection of the urinary tract
Collecting a urine sample
- label the container with your name, date of birth and the date
- wash your hands
- start to urinate, but don’t collect the first part of urine that comes out
- collect a sample of urine “mid-stream” (see below) in a sterile screw-top container
- screw the lid of the container shut
- wash your hands thoroughly
Smear Tests (Cervical Screening)
- Cervical screening (a smear test) checks the health of your cervix. The cervix is the opening to your womb from your vagina.
- It’s not a test for cancer, it’s a test to help prevent cancer.
- All women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 64 should be invited by letter.
- During the screening appointment, a small sample of cells will be taken from your cervix.
- The sample is checked for certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) that can cause changes to the cells of your cervix. These are called “high risk” types of HPV.
- If these types of HPV are not found, you do not need any further tests.
- If these types of HPV are found, the sample is then checked for any changes in the cells of your cervix. These can then be treated before they get a chance to turn into cervical cancer.
Please visit our Cervical Screening (Smear Test) page for for further information.
An X-ray is a widely used diagnostic test to examine the inside of the body. X-rays are a very effective way of detecting problems with bones, such as fractures. They can also often identify problems with soft tissue, such as pneumonia or breast cancer.
If you have an X-ray, you will be asked to lie on a table or stand against a surface so that the part of your body being X-rayed is between the X-ray tube and the photographic plate.
An X-ray is usually carried out by a radiographer, a healthcare professional who specialises in using imaging technology, such as X-rays and ultrasound scanners.