Patients are being ‘left in limbo’ while practices are having to repeatedly cancel blood tests due to the ongoing crisis with the delivery of lab reagents, GPs have warned.
Major laboratory supplier Roche is continuing to face delays to its distribution process, which has led to a knock-on effect for diagnostic testing across the UK.
However some areas, particularly in the North of England, are faring worse than others and the issues are anticipated to continue for anther two weeks at least, Pulse has learned.
This week, Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust told local GP practices ‘Roche have advised that they expect supply to be disrupted for a further two weeks’.
The notice added: ‘We do not currently have any shortages and have the full repertoire of tests available but neighbouring networks do and some have stepped back to urgent and critical work only. We may be required to offer support to neighbouring networks and our supply chain is still disrupted.
‘Unfortunately we will not be able to return to full activity from Monday 26 October without jeopardising our ability to continue to support that model.’
Roche Diagnostics regional manager for UK and Ireland Geoff Twist told Pulse: ‘While some customers are now returning to a normal delivery schedule, we fully acknowledge there is variation across the different regional networks and we are addressing this as a matter of urgency. In the meantime we are continuing to prioritise delivery of any products that our customers are telling us they need.’
He added that the company is still ‘working day and night to get back to business as usual’ and said several supplementary shipments from its Germany-based warehouse had arrived this week.
Dr Kieran Sharrock, medical director at Lincolnshire LMC, said: ‘It is very frustrating that we were initially informed that normal services could resume, and then this has been reversed.
‘Practices had reorganised phlebotomy clinics, chronic disease reviews, and follow up appointments, and have had to cancel them again. This is extra workload when we are already snowed under, and very worrying for patients, who must feel left in limbo.’
Dr Sharrock also called for Roche to ‘compensate practices for the extra work’ it has created.
In Greater Manchester, Professor Carolyn Chew-Graham, shared on Twitter that she has contacted the area’s MPs about the ‘unsafe’ service after continuing to have ‘no access to blood tests in primary care’.