Vital NHS tests delayed due to supply chain failure

Vital NHS tests delayed due to supply chain failure

 · 3 min read

Swiss pharmaceutical firm Roche has reported that their move to a new warehouse has caused problems, leading to a "very significant" drop in its processing capacity. This has resulted in the provision of tests for conditions such as cancer, COVID-19 and other diseases coming under threat. 

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Swiss pharmaceutical firm Roche has reported that their move to a new warehouse has caused problems, leading to a "very significant" drop in its processing capacity. This has resulted in the provision of tests for conditions such as cancer, COVID-19 and other diseases coming under threat. 

A spokesperson from Roche said COVID-19 tests would take top priority. However, it could be two weeks before the problem is fixed. 

The NHS has been advised by one General Practitioner to halt all non-essential blood tests to compensate for the backlog that will be created. The backlog will also affect tests for other diseases. 

Roche has released a statement, which 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."

In the statement, there was no comment surrounding the impact on other specific tests that are needed by the public, other than the COVID-19 tests. 

As Roche is one of the leading suppliers of diagnostic testing equipment and materials in the UK, the supply chain issue and backlog will have significant effects on those who urgently need tests done for a variety of illnesses and diseases. Their only distribution warehouse in the UK, in Sussex, is meant to cover the entire country.

Lead clinician for pathology at North Devon District Hospital, Dr Tom Lewis, told the BBC that he had notified his hospital's trust, that they should halt any non-urgent blood tests. He went on to tell the BBC that without monitoring the distribution of these tests stringently, they would run out of swabs in "three to four days". Even with the rationing in place, he has also told the BBC that the equipment needed could still run out by next week. 

Roche has sent a letter to NHS trusts, saying: "In September we moved from our old warehouse to a new automated warehouse capable of much higher volumes.

"However, during the transition we encountered some unforeseen issues and a very significant drop in our processing capacity. Since then we have worked around the clock to prioritise and manage orders as well as increase this capacity".

The letter further advised the NHS to "look to prioritise essential services only".

Zara Tunnicliffe
Zara Tunnicliffe
Zara joined Age Group in 2020 and is an expert in all things food and drink, travel and lifestyle.
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