THE UK, including Newport and Gwent, is set to receive millions of tubes for blood tests over the coming weeks, though the shortage “crisis” may not yet be at an end.

Yesterday, it was revealed that medical technology company Becton Dickinson (BD) had received “exceptional use authorisation” to import blood tubes into the UK.

It comes as a result of a significant supply shortage of blood tubes across hospitals and GP surgeries.

The British Medical Association (BMA) described the shortage as “severe”, and said that “even the most clinically important blood tests may be at risk”.

But, while BD are set to deliver nine million tubes to the NHS this week for immediate distribution, residual delays could yet impact on blood tests across the health service.

While there is no exact figure reported at this time, it has been confirmed that there is a backlog of orders.

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All clinically necessary blood tests have been able to continue to date, though other tests have been scaled back in some cases.

While BD’s blood tubes have yet not been used in the UK to date, the firm said that their tubes are approved for use in other regions of the world, such as the United States.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We have secured tens of millions of additional blood tubes, including importing additional supplies from the EU and the US, which will be available to the NHS soon and there continues to be stock in place to ensure clinically urgent testing continues.

“Patient safety is always the top priority and we continue to work closely with NHS England, the devolved administrations, and the NHS to minimise any impact on patient care.”

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Earlier this month, NHS England issued guidance amid a global shortage of blood tube products.

Dr David Wrigley, BMA council deputy chair, had labelled the situation a “crisis” which put doctors in a “terrible, unenviable position”.

Last Thursday, NHS bosses across the border wrote to England’s GPs and hospital trusts warning that supply was “forecasted to become even more constrained over the coming weeks”.

It was said all primary care and community testing must stop until September 17, except for “clinically urgent” testing.

Acute and mental health trusts were also told reduce their demand by a minimum of 25 per cent for the period.

BD have said there has been “unpredictable” demand for its vacutainer blood collection tubes due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Statement from the BMA in full

Dr David Wrigley, BMA council deputy chair said: “This crisis has put doctors and their patients in a terrible, unenviable position.

“No doctor knowingly undertakes unnecessary blood tests and to now have to ration all those we are doing, as well as cancel hundreds more, goes against everything we stand for as clinicians.

“However, if we don’t try to follow the NHS guidance, it’s clear we will get to the point where even the most clinically urgent of blood tests may not be able to be done as we simply won’t have the tubes for the blood to go into.

“We are at a very perilous point and it’s surprising that NHS England hasn’t declared a critical incident given the very strong possibility that NHS organisations may temporarily lose the ability to provide lifesaving diagnostic testing.”