Blood test tube shortage is ‘temporary’ but is expected to last up to three months

A GP surgery has said only “essential blood tests” will be booked for the foreseeable future.

This comes after the Welsh Government confirmed there is a supply issue when it comes to products used for blood collection.

All four UK nations are affected.

Mostyn House Medical Practice, Llandudno, posted on Facebook: “We have been informed by the Welsh Government there is a UK wide shortage of blood bottles due to a problem with the manufacturer.

“Only essential blood tests will be booked for the foreseeable future. Please note if you have a blood test already booked it is unlikely to be affected but we will contact you if there is a problem.

“This shortage is temporary and is expected to last up to three months. This does mean that some tests for some people will be postponed until the national stocks recover.

“Those patients with the highest risk or need will still receive the blood tests they need. Routine blood tests will have to wait.

“Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience caused.”

The NHS have experience in dealing with medical supply issues..

Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services, said: “NHS Wales are leading the response within Wales with support from Welsh Government, and are working closely with other nations to put mitigations in place including to source clinically suitable alternatives to products affected.

“In order to preserve supplies for people that urgently need blood tests, the NHS issued clinical guidance to reduce the number of non-clinically urgent tests. Welsh experts were part of the UK Clinical Reference Group which endorsed the guidance. Patient safety remains the priority, and a test would only be delayed if the NHS have assessed it is clinically safe to do so.

“People who require urgent care should continue to seek it as normal.”

Dr David Bailey, chair of BMA Cymru Wales, said: “We are aware of shortages of tubes which are used by medical professionals in hospitals across the UK, GP practices and community settings to collect blood for laboratory testing.

“In response to this we have worked with the Welsh Government and NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership on a letter advising primary care providers with advice on how best to manage the impact of the shortage with guidance on how to best conserve supplies whilst balancing the needs of patients.

“This includes prioritising blood tests for patients at the immediate highest risk over the next three months whilst the shortage remains such as people with acute conditions where blood tests might affect management of the condition.

“All general practices have been advised to only keep up to two week’s supply of bottles to avoid stockpiling, and to not collect blood if patients are referred straight to secondary care along with a list of other measures.

“We have raised our concerns about the impact this could have on regular tests for NHS Health checks, the monitoring of quality of care, and medication reviews particularly as some patients will have gone without their routine chronic disease monitoring reviews during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Whilst we are working with NHS employers and policy makers to manage the situation, no doctor wants the consequence of delayed diagnosis for patients due to these shortages.

“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 manage supplies reliably and ensure that supply chains of medical equipment are maintained at all times.”

North Wales Pioneer | Llandudno