Responding to news that access to key NHS tests will be impacted by a supply chain issue at Roche, Dr David Strain, BMA medical academic staff committee co-chair, said:
“This is an extremely concerning development, and is yet another obstacle in a Covid testing system that has been beset by problems. And while we don’t know the full scale of the problem, the impact on patients needing tests for many other conditions, ranging from urine infections to cancer, and monitoring of long term conditions such as diabetes, prevention of blood clotting treatments, is potentially very serious and we need assurances that it will be resolved urgently.”
Dr Mark Sanford-Wood, BMA GP committee deputy chair, added:
“Doctors in parts of the country already affected will not have timely access to vital tests. We must have, without delay, details about how widespread the issue is and what clinicians should be telling their patients.
“While we understand the need during the pandemic to maintain the Covid testing system to identify new cases, there are still patients who will need tests for a range of conditions that could be equally as life-threatening if left undetected.
“We call for assurances that patient care – both Covid and non-Covid – will be prioritised over Covid antibody tests, which are of limited immediate clinical value.
“Patients will be rightly anxious if they are unable to get a referral for tests or receive results, and GPs and all doctors will need urgent support from NHS England in managing these delays and ensuring those who need urgent testing, regardless of condition, can access it before their health worsens considerably.”
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.