GPs must stop all non-urgent blood testing now

NHS England has told primary care and community care to halt all blood testing until 17 September except for clinically urgent testing. This is due to the global supply disruption to blood bottles.

Examples of clinically urgent testing include:

  • Bloods that are required to facilitate a two week wait referral
  • Bloods that are extremely overdue and/or essential for safe prescribing of medication or monitoring of condition
  • Bloods that if taken could avoid a hospital admission or prevent an onward referral
  • Those with suspected sepsis or conditions with a risk of death or disability.

There are a small number of QOF indicators which require a blood test to be undertaken. Unless clinically urgent, practices should move blood test activity scheduled prior to 17 September to a later point in the year when supply improves.

Trusts are also being told to reduce their blood testing demand. Please read the full letter sent by NHS England to primary care.

A letter has also been sent from NEL primary care

All practices will also need to complete a daily sit rep and submit it to Information on this will follow.

The supply of blood bottles remains constrained and is forecasted to become even more constrained over the coming weeks. While it is anticipated that the position will improve from the middle of September, overall supply is likely to remain challenging for a significant period. NHSE have informed us that alternative products are being sought to alleviate these constraints; and all labs that will be switching to these supplies have received samples for testing and validation. However, it will take time for these products to be imported and delivered in volume to services. It is important and urgent that demand is reduced as much as possible and that this letter is acted upon immediately.

We appreciate that this temporary position is challenging and wish to thank you for your efforts in managing this issue and for your continued collaboration across local, regional and national networks.

Below is a message supplied by NHS England that can be used to inform patients, including in letters and on your website:

A supplier to the NHS has advised us of a global shortage of some equipment used for taking blood tests.

Anyone who needs a test for urgent health problems, will still get one but where your clinician recommends that it’s safe to do so, then you may be asked to come back for a test at a later date, or your appointment may be rescheduled.

Given the nature of the shortage, we cannot give an exact date for when the test will be rescheduled, but please be assured that if your condition or symptoms require it, then you will get a test, and we will be re-booking your test when supplies become more easily available.

If your condition or symptoms change or get worse, please contact the NHS as you would normally.