Blood tests cancelled across Bedfordshire after shortage of chemical for testing

Patients in Bedfordshire are among thousands across the country to have routine blood tests cancelled due to a shortage of a chemical used for testing.

By Euan Duncan
Wednesday, 21st October 2020, 5:03 pm
Updated Wednesday, 21st October 2020, 5:04 pm

The shortage of the reagent - used to analyse blood tests - has affected NHS trusts all over the UK.

Text messages have been sent by GP practices across Bedfordshire warning patients of cancellations.

The Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche, which supplies the reagent to the NHS, blamed logistical problems resulting from a move to a new warehouse.


This has caused a “very significant” drop in its processing capacity.

Director of primary care for Beds, Luton and Milton Keynes (BLMK) CCG, Nicky Poulain, appeared before Luton Borough Council’s health and well-being board and said the issue has affected testing for two weeks.

“It’s completely unrelated to Covid-19,” she explained. “The has been a supply chain problem affecting hospitals which use this particular company.

“We’ve had quite a bit of discussion with the GP practices in Luton and all of Bedfordshire.

“It’s affected the laboratories of the Bedfordshire hospitals, so the sites of Bedford and the Luton and Dunstable.

“It hasn’t impacted Milton Keynes Hospital because their blood tests don’t use Roche’s products for the processing..."

Despite this being a national issue, Ms Poulain said "only certain tests" had been affected by the chemical shortage.

She added that tests are expected to be “all back up and running by midweek subject to final confirmation".

Labour council leader councillor Hazel Simmons, who chairs the board, said: “I wanted to raise it here, so that the public will know and won’t worry about it.

“When you get a text from your doctor saying your blood test has been cancelled without any real reason, as a member of the public, you do worry as to why that’s the case.

“I know you’re saying it’s nothing to do with Covid-19. I got a message suggesting it is connected because the work the laboratories are doing on Covid testing has affected Roche’s stocks.”

The director of primary care replied: “You’re quite right. It’s the volume of tests. Most of the time we worry about workforce.

“It wasn’t about the laboratories having the capability or the capacity.

"They physically didn’t have the reagent, so it was a supply chain issue.”