Worldwide blood bottle shortage and blood test appointment cancellations
There is a worldwide shortage of blood bottles and this is expected to last for a period of time, at least until the middle of September.
GPs are being urged to cut the unnecessary use of blood test tubes after manufacturers warned of shortages in the coming weeks. NHS England (NHSE) has been told that soaring demand due to increased blood testing for covid cases, and increased demand from working through a backlog of blood tests required for routine care, coupled with ‘UK border challenges’ had hit production and supply chains.
NHSE guidance says that GPs should ‘reduce non-essential (non-clinically urgent) testing’, such as vitamin D testing, routine wellness screening (for instance, cholesterols and diabetes screen in well people), allergy testing, routine infertility with the exception of patients over 35 years of age.
We are awaiting further guidance with regard to having to delay routine testing as part of the clinical targets that GP surgeries have to meet for their patients, for instance, diabetes and cholesterol checks, kidney blood tests. This is important given that we must continue to provide ongoing care to our patients whilst also trying to tackle a huge backlog of care built up through the pandemic.
UPDATE SEPTEMBER 16, 2021: SITUATION EASING
The blood bottle manufacturer has now completed improvements to its manufacturing facility in the UK and expects its production capacity to recover through September.
These developments, alongside the efforts of NHS staff to manage use, mean that the supply situation is no longer as constrained as at the end of August. However, the issue is not yet completely resolved and GPs have been used to continue requesting blood tests with caution.
More information can be found on this NHSE update .
OLDER UPDATE AUGUST 26, 2021: ONLY CLINICALLY URGENT BLOODS TO BE DONE
We have been informed by the NHS that all primary care and community testing must be halted until September 17, 2021, except for clinically urgent testing. Examples of clinically urgent testing include:
We are advised that all booked appointments from August 31, 2021 until September 17, 2021 have been cancelled. Unfortunately, this includes appointments for clinically urgent blood tests as there is no easy way for those running the clinic to identify such requests.
If you are in one of the above clinically urgent categories, you will need to contact us so that we can authorise an urgent blood test appointment. Please note the phone lines are already extremely busy therefore please bear with us.
If you are not in one of the above categories, we kindly ask that you do not contact us. We would advise you to rebook your blood test appointment when they again become available.
More information can be found on this government supply disruption alert .
Ivy Grove Surgery
© Dr Michael Wong 2021