GP surgery blasted as ‘penny-pinching’ after telling patients to bring their OWN batteries for essential tests

NHS PATIENTS are being told to bring their own batteries to GP appointments to cut costs.

People getting their blood pressure or hearts checked were asked to provide AA batteries to power a 24-hour electrocardiogram at Marden Medical Centre in Kent.

SWNSPatients at the Marden Medical Centre in Kent are being told to bring their own batteries to GP appointments to cut costs[/caption]

A text from the practice to a patient warned them if they needed an ECG or blood pressure test they would need their own Duracell batteries — which cost around £4 a pack.

Outraged campaigners said it is unacceptable that poorly patients are being forced to stump up the cash for “essential diagnostic equipment”.

Dennis Reed, of senior citizen group Silver Voices, said: “How has the NHS degenerated to such an extent that patients are asked to bring their own batteries? 

“Instead of penny-pinching measures like this to make patients fork out for their health care, the NHS should be cutting out the billions they are wasting on failing computer systems.”

It 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 message said: “This is a reminder of your appointment which is booked.

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

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.

A spokesman for Marden Medical Centre in Kent said: “Our 24-hour electrocardiogram (ECG) recording machine is an additional service we provide.

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

“It requires fresh batteries every time it is used — providing new batteries each time would be costly and create wastage.

“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.”

How to lower blood pressure

Persistent high blood pressure (hypertension) puts extra strain on your blood vessels, heart and other organs and it can raise your risk of serious conditions like heart disease, heart attacks and stroke. Here’s how to reduce it.

Reduce salt

Adults are recommended to limit their salt to 6g per day (around one level teaspoon) to avoid health consequences including high blood pressure.

The top tip is to swap out table salt, according to the Salt Substitute and Stroke Study, replacing it with a reduced sodium and added potassium alternative.

Cut down on alcohol

Excessive boozing can narrow the blood vessels, which raises the risk of hypertension.

Official drinking guidelines advise that people should not regularly drink more than 14 units a week to keep health risks from alcohol low.

Get moving

Exercise is good for the heart and the blood vessels.

Although the guidelines recommend 150 minutes of activity per week, if you’re currently very inactive, just a walk to the shop every day is better than nothing, and you can work up from there.

Studies suggest that isometric exercises – when you hold the body in one position without moving, such as a wall squat or plank – are best for lowering blood pressure.

Stop smoking

Smoking cigarettes is a killer. It makes the arteries sticky and narrow, which can cause blockages.

While smoking is not a direct cause of high blood pressure, it can cause an instant rise to pressure, heart rate and reduce the amount of oxygen that gets to the body’s cells.

Skip coffee

Sadly, caffeine can cause a short, but dramatic increase in your blood pressure – even if you don’t have high blood pressure.

Therefore cutting back on coffee is recommended as a lifestyle tip for those with hypertension.

Lose weight

The above tips can help you to lose weight, which is beneficial because being overweight in itself is a risk factor for hypertension.

Being overweight forces your heart to work harder to pump blood around your body, which can raise your blood pressure.

The only way of knowing whether you have high blood pressure is to have a blood pressure test. All adults over 40 years old are advised to have their blood pressure checked at least every five years. 

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