The British Medical Association (BMA) has hit out at the testing restrictions being imposed on doctors as a result of a shortage of blood test tubes.
The doctor’s union said it had raised concerns about the impact of not conducting some tests on the quality of care and ongoing medication, saying it was “unreasonable” to simply delay them.
Earlier this month NHS England told doctors to reduce non-essential non-clinically urgent testing, along with trying to use blood samples for as many tests as possible and stopping all training involving these tubes.
It also recommended that routine wellness screening, Vitamin D, allergy, pre-diabetes and blood disorders and routine infertility testing should be stopped unless absolutely necessary.
NHS England said the measures were necessary “in light of global shortages of blood tube products” and noted that “due to the ongoing intermittent supply, only limited quantities will continue to be available”.
However, after almost two weeks the BMA said it was aware of reported shortages of tubes used by to collect blood for laboratory testing and had raised it as a “significant concern” with NHS England.
Dr David Wrigley, deputy chair of the BMA council highlighted the limitations on testing and said: “The BMA has raised the impact this could have on regular tests for NHS Health checks, the monitoring of quality of care, and medication reviews.
“It would also be unreasonable to ask healthcare staff to simply delay these tests until a later date – not only for the sake of our patients, but also the entire system, which is already tackling an enormous backlog of care.
“While NHS England has provided some guidance for clinicians to follow, no doctor wants the consequence of delayed diagnosis for patients due to these shortages, and they also need to know they are protected from any possible negligence claims.”
He added that adequate supplies of these tubes needed to be resumed without further delay, and it is vital, going forward, that supply chains of medical equipment were maintained at all times.