| 24 April 2024, Wednesday |

NHS blood tube shortage: Supplier ramps up imports

Becton Dickinson (BD) – which makes blood test vials for the NHS – is increasing imports to try to mitigate serious shortages of test tubes.

The firm told the BBC it has received “exceptional use authorization” from UK authorities to import blood tubes that are already approved for use in other countries, such as the US.

BD said it has increased production capacity in the UK by 20 percent, and it will deliver 9 million blood tubes to the NHS this week.

Doctors have been told to stop most blood tests until 17 September, while hospitals have had to cut the total number of blood tests by a quarter.

The NHS in England and Wales said it has temporarily halted all non-urgent testing, due to the scarcity and supply chain difficulties BD is facing.

The tests put on hold include those given to patients to diagnose fertility, allergies and pre-diabetes.

The shortage will likely worsen over the next few weeks and last until mid-September, NHA England has warned.

Doctors have warned that they are in a “perilous” situation and are having to make difficult choices about which patients get blood tests because of the ongoing shortage of test tube supply problems.

BD said on Monday that it is striving to help the NHS care for patients in the UK, by maximizing production at all of its global manufacturing facilities that make blood tube products.

It said it is expediting shipments and “importing millions of units” from other regions of the world to the UK.

Like many other industries, the firm previously said that it was experiencing “continued transportation challenges” in addition to increased demand, which included port and transport capacity, air freight capacity and UK border challenges.