Doctors and hospitals halt non-urgent blood tests as NHS faces vial shortage

Posted On 04 Sep 2021 at 1:39 pm

A shortage of vials used for blood tests has spurred health chiefs to halt all non-urgent blood tests.

Healthwatch Brighton and Hove highlighted the problem yesterday (Friday 3 Septmber).

The watchdog said: “The vials used for blood tests are currently in short supply – and the NHS in England and Wales is temporarily stopping all non-urgent testing.

“There are currently global shortages of blood tube products and companies which make vials for the health service are facing serious supply chain issues.

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“Because of the shortage, the NHS in England and Wales has told surgeries and hospitals to temporarily stop some blood testing, with patients told they will only be able to get tests if they are urgent.

“And the shortage will likely worsen over the next few weeks and last until mid-September, NHS England said.

“GPs have been provided with information and will be sharing this with patients.

“We understand that tests put on hold include those for fertility, allergies and pre-diabetes.”

Healthwatch added that examples of clinically urgent testing included

  • Blood tests that are required to facilitate a two-week wait referral
  • Blood tests that are extremely overdue and/or essential for safe prescribing of medication or monitoring of condition
  • Blood tests that if taken could avoid a hospital admission or prevent an onward referral
  • Those with suspected sepsis or conditions with a risk of death or disability

The Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) also sent an update on the global shortage of blood tests equipment and what it means for patients.

The CCG said: “A supplier to the NHS has advised us of a global shortage of some equipment used for taking blood tests.

“Anyone who needs a test for urgent health problems, eg, two-week wait appointments, will still get one.

“But where your clinician recommends that it’s safe to do so, then you may be asked to come back for a test at a later date or your appointment may be rescheduled.

“Given the nature of the shortage, we cannot give an exact date for when a test will be rescheduled.

“But please be assured that if your condition or symptoms require it, then you will get a test, and we will be rebooking your test when supplies become more easily available.

“If your condition or symptoms change or get worse, please contact the NHS as you would normally.”

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