On 8 October NHS England issued its latest update on the Becton Dickinson blood test container supply problem. The main change from previous advice is the instruction to order Becton Dickinson containers “little and often”, with the aim of practices holding no more than one week’s stock at any time. Demand from June and July this year should be the reference point for what constitutes a week’s worth of stock.
The NHS England advice for practices regarding the use of tubes remains in place:
- Continue testing activity in primary and community care, in line with best practice guidance for primary care and secondary care, stocks permitting, as has been the advice since 17 September,
- Avoid over-testing,
- Check what tests have been conducted recently in another care setting,
- Check if the test can be added on to a recent (past days to week) sample,
- Review the frequency of tests that are done for monitoring purposes (thyroid, B12 etc),
- Reduce non-essential (non-urgent) testing including rescheduling routine health checks and in most cases stop vitamin D testing,
- Rotate stock to avoid out of date wastage, and
- Stop ‘double-tube’ practice and use a single blood tube for all biochemistry tests,
- Avoid an immediate surge in demand for tubes beyond June and July 2021 baseline levels, working through any backlog of tests over a period of at least eight weeks, prioritising as required.