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HARDSHIP: UK hospital tells patients to bring their own batteries for blood pressure, heart checks

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Marden Medical Centre, in Kent, United Kingdom, has put in place a number of penny-pinching measures to keep the organisation afloat in the midst of the economic situation of the country.

Among the measures is the requirement for patients to bring along their own batteries to GP appointments for blood pressure and heart checks.

A text sent to one person attending Marden Medical Centre in Marden, Kent, requested them to bring along their own Duracell AA batteries if they needed an ECG or blood pressure test.

The full message from the practice said, “This is a reminder of your appointment which is booked.

“If you have booked a 24hr Blood Pressure or 24hr ECG appointment ONLY, please bring two AA Duracell batteries for the machine.”

It costs around £4 for a pack of four Duracell AAs batteries.

A medical centre spokesman confirmed the measure was in place as part of attempts to keep down costs and stop wastage.

The spokesman said, “Our 24-hour electrocardiogram (ECG) recording machine is an additional service we provide, having been donated by fundraising efforts of the Friends of Marden Medical Centre.

“It is a convenient alternative to going to hospital for the check.

“It requires fresh batteries every time it is used to make sure it works properly. Providing new batteries each time would be costly and create wastage, and we found rechargeable batteries were not effective.

“This policy is in line with our drive to support sustainability and a greener NHS, as patients can continue to use the batteries they provide at home afterwards.”

The GP was rated ‘outstanding’ overall by inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) after a visit in 2019.

In three out of five categories – safe, effective and responsive – it scored ‘good’ overall, while in the remaining two – caring and well-led – it was rated ‘outstanding’.

In 2022, the British Medical Association outlined guidance on what GPs should charge patients for.

It included certificates, whether it be a private sick note for employers, a certificate for insurance purposes, or a freedom from infection certificate which can be used for school, travel or employment,

Taking extracts from records or providing health reports can also be charged for, but there is no mention of batteries.

The request for patients to dip into their own pockets comes just over a year after prices for prescriptions were increased.

On March 9 last year, a 3.21 per cent inflation rate was applied – the equivalent of around 30p – to prescriptions.

It meant the price rose from £9.35 to £9.65 for each medicine or appliance dispensed.

The cost of prescription pre-payment certificates (PPCs) was also increased.

Those with a three-month PPC saw an increase of £1 to £31.25 and 12-month PPCs were increased by £3.50 to £111.60.

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