Test tube shortage could hit NHS services

Test tube shortage could hit NHS services

By Chloe West | 03/09/2021

Test tube shortage could hit NHS services


HEALTH officials in Rotherham are monitoring the impact of a national shortage of test tubes.

NHS England said services could be faced with “constrained” pressures over the coming weeks due to the shortage.

The vials which are used for blood tests are currently in short supply — and NHS England is temporarily stopping all non-urgent testing.

Ian Atkinson, executive place director for Rotherham CCG, said: “We are aware of the national shortage of vials used for blood tests and are currently following the guidance set out by NHS England.”

He said he was not aware of blood tests being affected in Rotherham so far but the CCG was monitoring the situation closely.

A guidance letter sent out by NHS England to all GP Practices and Hospital Trusts last Thursday, said the suspension of non-urgent testing would remain in place until September 17.

The letter read: “The supply position remains constrained and is forecasted to become even more constrained over the coming weeks.

“While it is anticipated the position will improve from the middle of September, overall supply is likely to remain challenging for a significant period.”

The shortage currently remains to be a global situation and company Becton Dickinson, which has a factory in Plymouth and makes vials for the health service, is among those facing serious supply chain issues.

A spokesperson for The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust said that the specific type of blood tube in short supply was not one they used, adding: “So far we have not had to reduce or cancel any blood tests.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care, said they had now secured tens of millions of additional blood tubes from the EU and US, which would be available to the NHS soon.

They added: “There continues to be stock in place to ensure clinically urgent testing continues.

“Patient safety is always the top priority and we continue to work closely with NHS England, the devolved administrations, and the NHS to minimise any impact on patient care.” 


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