Patients in Bedford should expect serious delays as national blood test tube shortage worsens

Text sent out to residents over the weekend

Monday, 6th September 2021, 1:58 pm
Updated Monday, 6th September 2021, 2:00 pm

Patients in Bedford have been told to only expect blood tests marked urgent by their GPs to be processed.

A text was sent out at the weekend to alert residents of the national shortage of blood bottles - and its subsequent impact.

The message read: "The local pathology labs will not be processing routine blood tests.

The company which makes vials for the NHS - Becton Dickinson - said it is experiencing serious supply disruption.

"Currently only those marked by your GP as urgent will be processed.

"Unfortunately, this situation is completely out of our control and it is not clear how long this situation will last for.

"If you feel your blood test is urgent, please contact us using the e-consult facility on our website. Please do not telephone the practice."

NHS England has admitted a shortage of vials used for blood tests will worsen over the next few weeks and will last until the middle of September.

It said supplies remain constrained and are forecast "to become even more constrained over the coming weeks".

While the NHS expects the position to improve by the middle of next month, "overall supply is likely to remain challenging for a significant period."

The British Medical Association (BMA) said on its website it has raised this as a significant concern with NHS England.

Dr David Wrigley, deputy chair of BMA council, said: "While NHS England has provided some guidance for clinicians to follow, no doctor wants the consequence of delayed diagnosis for patients due to these shortages, and they also need to know they are protected from any possible negligence claims.

"We need to have adequate supplies of these tubes resumed, without further delay, and it is vital, going forward, that processes are put in place to ensure that supply chains of medical equipment are maintained at all times."

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "We have secured tens of millions of additional blood tubes, including importing additional supplies from the EU and the US and there continues to be stock in place to ensure clinically urgent testing continues.

“Patient safety is always our top priority and we are working closely with NHS England, the devolved administrations, and the NHS to minimise any impact on patient care and return to a normal service as soon as possible.”