Many of you will have heard that the NHS has a national shortage of blood test bottles. GP surgeries and hospitals have been instructed to make severe cuts in testing until 17 September, with NHS England warning that ‘supply is likely to remain challenging for a significant period’ thereafter. Last week Spilsby Surgery ordered 400 bottles and were restricted to just 50.
The manufacturer has stated ‘In addition to increased demand, we are seeing continued transportation challenges that have affected all industries, including port and transport capacity, air freight capacity and UK border challenges. Suppliers are also challenged to meet increased demand for raw materials and components’.
GP practices have been tasked with interpreting imprecise national guidance, and deciding what is a necessary blood test and what can wait. This is a time-consuming exercise, is far from straightforward, will invariably incur risk to some patients, and will only become more problematic the longer the shortage goes on.
The practice will defer blood tests for annual and some six-monthly chronic disease management reviews. We will – for the moment – honour requests for blood tests made by the hospital, but may need to refer some patients to their specialist if routine hospital requests impact important practice tests.
If you believe that an important blood test has fallen through the safety net we are frantically weaving, please speak to a Care Navigator, who will ask a nurse or GP to review the test request.