Frustration as blood tests cancelled at Bedford Hospital due to UK-wide supplier shortages

blood test

Frustrated patients are being turned away from blood test appointments at Bedford Hospital due to logistics problems with a supplier to the NHS.

The hospital said it was contacting all patients to reschedule their appointments, but many ‘walk-in’ patients with GP referrals were left confused and frustrated after being turned away.

Not all blood tests are affected, so anyone with an urgent requirement or other concerns have been advised to phone their GP or consultant before making the journey.

The Swiss pharmaceutical firm Roche who supplies the NHS said logistical problems following a move to a new warehouse had led to a “very significant” drop in its processing capacity.

The shortage has affected NHS trusts all over the UK.

In a statement, Roche said, “We deeply regret that there has been a delay in the dispatch of some products.

“We are prioritising the dispatch of Covid-19 PCR [diagnostic] and antibody tests and doing everything we can to ensure there is no impact on the supply of these to the NHS.”

Blood tests
The sign on the door at Gilbert Hitchcock House (Photo: Clare Munyard)

While patients with prior appointments had been contacted by Hospital staff, anyone just turning up for a blood test found scant information available.

Reader, John Bethell, told the Bedford Independent, “Don’t waste your time going to North Wing hospital with your GP referral form.

“I was turned away yesterday as they had some sort of ‘shortage’ and was told to ring my GP next week for an update. The young lady told me this was a national shortage. So much for the government’s insistence that the NHS is open to all.”

Details about the national shortage ‘pop up’ on Bedford Hospital website’s homepage and more information can be found on the ‘news’ section, but according to the page relating to blood tests, it’s ‘business as usual’.

The statement on the Hospital website said, “Problems with an NHS supplier, Roche, has led to a temporary shortage in some of the chemicals we use to process blood test results. This is a national problem and Roche is working hard to resolve this.

“We are doing everything we can to reduce the impact on our patients, but unfortunately, we are going to have to cancel some tests.

“We appreciate how frustrating this is for those affected and will do everything we can to ensure these are rebooked as quickly as possible.

“As a result, we are unable to see any non-urgent patients at this time, including walk-in patients at Gilbert Hitchcock House (Bedford) and those attending Arndale House in Luton.

“Unfortunately, we are also unable to guarantee processing non-urgent results sent to us if you have a blood test done elsewhere.

“If you are worried and you have been told your blood test is urgent, please contact the person who referred you, your GP or your Consultant, who will be able to help you.

“We are very sorry for any inconvenience caused. We hope to be able to resume a normal service in the next few days – more information will be posted on this site, but we expect disruption to continue for the next week or more.

“We are trying to contact all patients who have an appointment to reschedule.”

Correction: This article was amended on 14 October at 12:28 to remove the line referring to phlebology sites at Gilbert Hitchcock House being temporarily closed. The line, ‘Not all blood tests are affected, so anyone with an urgent requirement or other concerns have been advised to phone their GP or consultant before making the journey’ was added to reflect that some blood tests are still able to take place.

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