How Long Do Blood Test Results Take?

Written by
The Manual Team
Medically approved by
Dr Earim Chaudry
Last updated
24th March 2021

In 30 seconds

How long do blood test results take? Well, that will depend on the test. Most are usually ready within around 72 hours. However, there are some tests – such as the HbA1c blood test – that can take up to a week to return results. The coeliac blood test and the test for vitamin D, meanwhile, are outliers, often taking as long as 2 to 3 weeks. 

Why does it all take so long? There are lots of reasons. Blood samples usually need to be sent off to labs for testing – and when there are lots of tests to be processed, the high-priority samples go first. For less common tests, processing might depend on a single specialist, particularly if you’re in a less-populated area. 

If you have any doubts at all about what is happening, or what your results mean, ask your healthcare provider. They’ll give you all the information you need.

Waiting for Your Blood Test Results

So, you’ve gone to your GP surgery for a blood test or you’ve sent off your sample to Manual. But what happens next? How long do blood test results take to come back? 

With the vast range of blood tests out there, the true answer is going to depend on which test you have taken. The blood glucose finger-prick test gives you immediate results, for example, while you’ll have to wait a little longer for most of the others.

Here, we’re going to give you the estimates for the most common tests out there. But, if in doubt – or if you don’t find your specific test covered here – ask the healthcare professional who is administering your test.

How Long Do Blood Tests Results Take?

According to medical advice from most healthcare providers, you should expect most tests to take about 72 hours to be processed and to receive your results. The NHS’s targets are that the vast majority of test results are returned within 48 hours. However, sometimes these take a little longer. These tests include:

  • The full blood count (FBC or CBC, complete blood count).
  • Blood cholesterol test (or lipid test)
  • Thyroid function test
  • Liver function test
  • Electrolyte test
  • Metabolic panel

However, it is important to be aware that, if you are present in the hospital as an in-patient, wait times for results will be dramatically lower. 

Tests with Immediate Results

While 72 hours is a good bet for the majority of tests, some don’t require as much time. Rather than the lab tests, these are the tests that you can do on the spot, such as:

  • Blood pressure test
  • Blood clotting test (coagulation test)
  • Quick blood sugar test

The results of these should be available within minutes, if not sooner. These are quick to administer and easy to process and read. You will usually leave the GP’s office knowing straight away what your results are.

When a Longer Wait is Possible

At the other end of the spectrum, however, some take a little longer. After you visit your GP or nurse, you may have to wait up to 3 weeks for accurate results.

Why? As tests go, these are much more complex processes – and usually need special attention to interpret. So, if you have had one of these tests, don’t be too concerned if you haven’t heard from your doctor within a few days.

Remember, if in doubt, you can always pick up the phone to your surgery and ask. They will be able to update you on the status of your test.

So which tests take a little longer? Some NHS clinics report longer wait times for the following tests: 

  • HbA1c blood test – Up to a week
  • Rheumatoid arthritis blood tests – A week
  • Coeliac blood test – Sometimes as long as 2 weeks
  • Vitamin D test – Up to 3 weeks

What About Manual?

At Manual, you can take a blood test without going to your doctor’s surgery. Delivered straight to your door, you can take the test at home and send it to us. We then process it at an NHS-accredited lab.

How long will the results take? You’ll get all the details within 3 to 5 days.

Why Do Test Results Take So Long?

Different tests take different lengths of times to return results. And the same test will not always take the same amount of time to process. These things change depending on several factors, including:

  • How common the test is. While lots of people take a full blood count, fewer take the vitamin D test, say. With lower demand, there are fewer facilities, meaning things can take more time.
  • How busy the processing lab is. If you’re in a rural area, or if it is a particularly busy period, things can take a little longer.
  • Whether specialists need to be present to administer the test. While a phlebotomist can take samples for any test, some tests require a specialist to facilitate the process itself. 
  • The time required for the chemical reaction itself. Tests such as the coagulation test take a matter of moments to yield results. Others, such as the electrolyte test, for example, need to go through many rounds of testing – so can take a little longer.
  • Your location. While it hardly seems fair, test processing facilities are not evenly distributed across the country. If you live in a less densely populated area, you may need to wait a little longer.
  • Disruption. Health crises like coronavirus caused limited disruption with processing blood tests. However, these circumstances are rare.

What Happens When You Receive Your Results?

We understand that it can be a worrying experience to wait for your blood test results. And, let us be honest, receiving your results can often be an upsetting time too. They can bring bad news. However, it is important to remember that, for many men, a blood test is the first step towards gaining control of their health.

In most cases, when you take the test you will be told when to expect the results – and how you will be told the results. Usually, if there is important news, your doctor’s office will ring you. However, some NHS practices ask that you ring them.

If you’re getting a blood test through Manual, your consultant will give you a call. And, whether your results are in the normal range, whether they might signal a medical condition, or if you need a repeat test, they’ll explain it all. They will answer any questions or doubts you have about the results – and help guide you through the next steps.

Shop Men’s Health Products on Manual.co

Help your body fight the good fight

Supplements are all-important when it comes to keeping your health at its best. All our health supplements are formulated by our medical team and packed with the best ingredients out there.


Vitamins
Sleep Aid
Gut Care

Key Takeaways

So, how long do blood test results take? That depends on the test, where you are in the country, and whether you are in the national health system or going private. The majority of tests will return results in less than 72 hours. However, others can take a little longer. 

At Manual, we can send you all you need for a blood test straight to your house. And whatever your results suggest, you can trust your doctor to clear up any concerns you may have. 

References

  1. NHS – TURNAROUND TIMES: https://www.ouh.nhs.uk/biochemistry/tests/turnaround-times.aspx

  2. Wellesley Road Practice – Test Results: https://www.wellesleyroadsurgery.co.uk/test-results/#

  3. BBC News – Patients’ access to vital NHS tests delayed by warehouse failure: https://www.bbc.com/news/health-54435226

While we've ensured that everything you read on the Health Centre is medically reviewed and approved, information presented here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

Further reading

From our health centre. Experts, information and hot topics. See all Daily Health articles