We have been made aware of a supply problem with one of the major suppliers of the vacutainers used to collect blood for tests. Whilst this may not affect all London practices directly, there are likely to be knock-on effects. NHS advice for practices includes:
- avoiding over-testing,
- reviewing the frequency of tests that are done for monitoring purposes (thyroid, B12 etc),
- reducing non-essential (non-urgent) testing including rescheduling routine health checks and in most cases stop vitamin D testing,
- rotating stock to avoid out of date wastage, and
- stopping ‘double-tube’ practice when requesting FBC and HBA1c.
See the full NHS advice here.
This is a national issue that is being taken forward by the BMA’s GPC, who expect the problem to last until at least late September based on conversations with NHS England. The GPC are also seeking clarity around the impact of the shortage on QOF and NHS Health Checks. Their suggestions to NHS England for mitigation measures include fewer requests for GPs to arrange blood tests in the days immediately after a patient’s discharge from hospital and patient facing information to discourage requests for vitamin D testing.