Episode 135: Bloods tests in primary care – Why test and what can we learn from looking at current practice?

In this episode, we talk to Dr Jessica Watson, who is a GP and NIHR academic clinical lecturer in general practice based at the Centre for Academic Primary Care at the University of Bristol.

Paper: ‘Why test study: a UK-wide audit using the Primary Care Academic CollaboraTive to explore the reasons for primary care testing’. 

Available at:

Previous research has shown a more than three-fold increase in the use of laboratory tests in UK primary care between 2000-2015, with significant variation in testing rates between GP practices. In this study around a quarter of tests were thought to be partially or fully unnecessary when reviewed retrospectively by another clinician. Around half of tests (48.8%) did not lead to any change in management or reassurance; 13.4% led to further blood tests or repeat blood tests, 2.7% led to further radiology tests. 6.2% of tests in primary care led to a new diagnosis or confirmation of diagnosis. This has important implications for how primary care clinicians talk to patients about blood tests, to ensure that patients have a better understanding and realistic expectations of the role of blood tests in their care.

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