Blood vial shortage must be resolved soon, says College

Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “The shortage of blood test tubes is really unfortunate at a time when the NHS is trying to get back to some normality and many patients are already facing long delays for hospital treatment as a result of the pandemic backlog.

“It’s extremely worrying for patients and hugely frustrating for GPs who are unable to deliver tests to some patients in a timely manner, and are also tasked with explaining to patients the delay in access to these tests. This is in addition to the already enormous pressure GPs and our teams are under, gearing up to deliver the biggest-ever flu vaccination campaign, as well as Covid booster jabs this autumn.

“Although some blood tests that are considered less urgent or routine are currently being postponed, they are still necessary to the health of patients, otherwise GPs would not have organised them in the first place. NHS England have advised that all primary care and community testing should stop until 17 September 2021, expect for clinically urgent testing, but every effort must be made to source alternative supplies so GPs can plan appropriately and reschedule tests that have been delayed. We also need assurances that any new supplies are fully calibrated against laboratory standards and fully compatible with equipment already being used in the UK.

"Until then, we would like to reassure patients that GP teams will continue to make sure that urgent and emergency tests go ahead as needed.”

Further information

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RCGP Press office – 020 3188 7633/7494/7574
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Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 53,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.