Exclusive GPs may begin to see a ‘more normal’ service with labs able to process blood tests from next week, according to the company at the centre of the ongoing crisis.
Roche, whose warehouse move led to disruption to the supply of reagents to labs across England last week, told Pulse it has managed to source emergency supplies from Germany in a bid to rectify the situation.
It had previously hoped to be ‘well on the way’ to resolving the issue, which caused labs to only be able to accept the most urgent blood tests from GPs, by the end of this week.
But the company said it’s new UK distribution centre is now ‘fully operational’, following the ‘logistical’ issue.
Geoff Twist, general manager of Roche Diagnostics UK and Ireland, told Pulse the company has ‘increased capacity by extending working hours through the introduction of a third shift’.
He also said it has been ‘supplementing scheduled shipments with the direct delivery of products, to laboratories in the UK, from our warehouse in Mannheim, Germany’.
‘This includes the dispatch of 21 tonnes of products last weekend (10-11 October), and a further two shipments totalling 30 tonnes scheduled between Friday (16 October) and Tuesday next week (20 October),’ Mr Twist said.
He added: ‘The direct delivery of products from Germany is allowing us to prioritise supply to the sites where the need is most acute, whilst continuing to reduce the backlog caused by the logistical issues. The shipments due on Friday and over the weekend will consolidate our recovery plan and enable a more normal level of service to resume next week.
‘We will, of course, continue to work closely with our customers to prioritise delivery of the products they are telling us are most urgent, as well as those used by critical services including cancer, cardiac and infectious diseases. There has been no impact on the supply of Covid-19 tests and these have been and will continue to be distributed as planned.’
Mr Twist also reiterated ‘how deeply we regret the impact this has had’ and said he would ‘once again extend my personal apology to those affected’.
Earlier this week, Pulse reported that GPs were still being asked to avoid booking any non-urgent blood tests due to an ongoing shortage of reagents required in the laboratory process despite claims that the issues would likely be resolved over last weekend.
Pulse revealed last week that doctors had been told to only send through ‘urgent’ tests to labs amid ‘a national reagent shortage’.
GPs, including the BMA, last week criticised the suppliers’ decision to prioritise the movement of Covid antibody tests, which they argue have little clinical value.