NHS takes steps to minimise impact of blood tube shortage
9 Sep 2021
The Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) has delivered a clarification statement regarding the shortage of blood test tubes and the resulting backlog in patient testing. While the situation will have an impact on the wider NHS recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic response, steps being taken by the NHS in England, Scotland and Wales will ensure that patients in need of blood tests will still be able to access them in good time.
The UK’s pathology services are experiencing major disruptions to their supplies of blood test tubes due to the ‘just in time’ manufacturing model and an over reliance on a limited number of suppliers of the test tubes. Therefore, the routine maintenance closure of the Becton Dickinson factory, along with the increased global demand for blood test tubes, had a knock-on effect for the supply chain, resulting in potential disruption for patients. As pathology services seek alternative products, this will also lead to disruptions in other supply lines, widening the issue.
The supply issues with Becton Dickinson emphasise the need for pathology services to work in a more co-ordinated way, within networks with clear leadership structures, to ensure that the supplier base is wide, and so that pooled and shared resources can prevent significant disruption and mitigate the risk when issues do occur. To manage what is a highly complex supply base with many global components, this co-ordination should include national oversight and engagement with pathology and procurement experts.
Our experienced and highly skilled biomedical scientists and laboratory staff will be essential during the coming weeks and months. By reducing demand on the tubes in question, they will be able to ensure that disruption to services and patient harm are minimised.
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