Responding to reports of blood tube shortages across the UK, 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.”
Notes to editors
The BMA is a trade union and professional association representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.