GPs and hospitals to limit blood tests in Engla... - Thyroid UK

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GPs and hospitals to limit blood tests in England due to bottle shortage

helvella profile image
helvellaAdministrator

I know people have posted about this recently, but it is now obviously worse.

Although this is specifically about NHS England, I doubt that the other three nations are any better off.

GPs and hospitals to limit blood tests in England due to bottle shortage

NHS says lack of plastic bottles for samples will worsen and last ‘for a significant period’

GPs have been told to stop performing most blood tests until mid-September, and hospitals to cut their number by 25%, as the NHS grapples with an acute shortage of sample bottles.

NHS England has ordered the unprecedented huge cut in blood testing because hospitals and GP surgeries have been hit with a severe and deepening shortage of the vials samples are put into.

The problem had already forced hospitals and GPs to start limiting the number of blood tests being carried out on patients.

But in new guidance issued on Thursday NHS England warned the shortage would get worse over the next few weeks and last for “a significant period”, which is believed may be months.

In the guidance letter it told GPs and hospital bosses that “the supply position remains constrained and is forecasted to become even more constrained over the coming weeks.

“While it is anticipated that the position will improve from the middle of September, overall supply is likely to remain challenging for a significant period.”

Rest of article available without charge here:

theguardian.com/society/202...

82 Replies
SeasideSusie profile image
SeasideSusieAdministrator

Yes, same in Wales. Non-urgent tests paused for 3 months approx initially, priority for high risk cases, no tests at GP surgery if being referred on to hospital for further treatment.

Seems to be the vacutainer tubes only.

I've had my bloods done at the hospital a week ago, they were in vacutainer tubes. I've just found this on the internet, very quick search - BD™ Vacutainer™ Serum Tubes are made of durable PET plastic with a Hemogard™ closure.

So who is using glass vacutainer tubes?

When I read about the shortage I've assumed it was for the vaccine bottles .. you know the one!

SeasideSusie profile image
SeasideSusieAdministrator in reply to linda96

Does it mention glass vacutainer tubes? I only skim read the Guardian article but didn't notice it mentioned glass, and Helvella's quote mentioned plastic.

linda96 profile image
linda96 in reply to SeasideSusie

You’re so right! My apologies. Iv seen several reports about this and glass was assumed.

Interesting, I only had my ‘annual’ checkup bloods last week after 6 not 12 months as my surgery decided that annual checkups will now fall in the month of patient’s birthday…

helvella profile image
helvellaAdministrator in reply to Sybilla14

My previous levothyroxine prescription was dispensed with a note that I needed to get a blood test before they would issue the next one. But when it came to it, I thought I'd just put in for it and handle it if there was an issue. (I knew about the collection tube issue.)

The other day, time came and I requested it. Usual few days later got text from pharmacy - ready to collect. And no note this time.

No idea if they made a mistake or are cutting down on tests.

If they brought back NDT they wouldn’t need all those blood tests for what a TSH test only is worth in monitoring thyroid hormone therapy treatment, and they’d be forced to listen to the patient. Don’t mean to be flippant as generally it’s a pretty bad situation.

tattybogle profile image
tattybogle in reply to TSH110

I've now decided i'm not particularly interested in what my bloods say anyway, apart from their 'curiosity value'.They usually 'say' illogical and confusing things, and then the GP f*cks about with my dose when i'm feeling alright, and makes me 'not alright' .

i've just spent 2 yrs observing myself carefully on 125 /112.5/ 100 / 112.5 mcg Levo.

And just decided to try putting myself back up to 125mcg on 11th August.

Result so far ., bit of an occasional headache for a week , then... long walks at a brisk pace there AND back.

A desire (and follow up action!) to actually clean behind the taps and clean the window frame after washing up.

And as of today a clean staircase with no fingermarks . tea stains or cobwebs.

So they can keep my blood tests tubes for someone who needs them . cos they seem to do me no good whatsoever.

I'm going 'old school' .

Suits me fine if they run out , apparently mine is due for testing in October according to my prescription , but i'll gladly help them out by not bothering.

Lovecake profile image
Lovecake in reply to tattybogle

If I tell you where I live will you pop round and do my hoovering and dusting? I will supply as much tea/coffee and biscuits/cake as you like 😉

tattybogle profile image
tattybogle in reply to Lovecake

yes ..... but i''ve got used to hoovering & dusting for people who get 'Horse and Hound' delivered, so nowadays i will only 'do it' for Champagne, or Gin and Tonic .....and Rasberry Pavlova :)

TSH110 profile image
TSH110 in reply to tattybogle

🤣🤣🤣 I work for that type too - as well as the mag there are actual horses and hounds all over the place at work would I qualify for your hoovering and dusting by association 😆😂😆

tattybogle profile image
tattybogle in reply to TSH110

Yes, but you still have to give me Gin and Tonic and raspberries.

Lovecake profile image
Lovecake in reply to tattybogle

I’m growing Runner Beans, will they do?

tattybogle profile image
tattybogle in reply to Lovecake

Dunno , not sure if 'gin and runner bean pavlova' is going to work out ..... but i'll try anything once ...

Lovecake profile image
Lovecake in reply to tattybogle

Ok, I’ll let you have a blueberry pavlova with your Gin as they are ripe now too

TSH110 profile image
TSH110 in reply to tattybogle

Ha ha you’d run a mile when you discovered I’m a modern day Quentin Crisp! The dust is only at the 10 year mark 🤣🤣🤣

Lovecake profile image
Lovecake in reply to tattybogle

🤣🤣🤣 I’m just ordering “Horse and Hound” now 😉

tattybogle profile image
tattybogle in reply to Lovecake

Oh alright then ,. i'll do it, .... (as long as you don't take the piss and let your muddy hound go up the cream stair carpet immediately after ive cleaned it. )

What is it about rich country people who see nothing wrong with letting muddy hounds on the cream carpet .. do they think it makes them look middle class if they have to look after their carpets ?

Lovecake profile image
Lovecake in reply to tattybogle

Cream carpets! My grandson was playing bubbles today. He can blow bubbles well, but hasn’t worked out you have to hold the pot level. So I hope you can cope with little spillages.You’re making me think I need a cook too 👨‍🍳

tattybogle profile image
tattybogle in reply to Lovecake

methods for dealing with stains on posh carpets vary ... pre-Gin , i get the stain out ... post-Gin i move a bronze statue of a horse on top of it. Both work well.

Lovecake profile image
Lovecake in reply to tattybogle

LMAO 😂Bronze statue of horse also on order now along with large bottle of gin

tattybogle profile image
tattybogle in reply to Lovecake

if you could order some massively valuable chinese vases for upstairs i'd appreciate it....... they're quite handy for covering up cup marks on the windowsil . (assuming you're not common enough to use coasters)

Lovecake profile image
Lovecake in reply to tattybogle

I put the coasters in a Victorian sideboard when we have visitors

tattybogle profile image
tattybogle in reply to Lovecake

well that's no good , they'll still think you're common ... you need to have a pair of Georgian sideboards.

Arlenka profile image
Arlenka in reply to tattybogle

I must say I have thorough enjoyed the banter between you and Lovecake. Right now I’m going through emotional hell and you two have just brightened my day. Thank you. Thank you. Hope you are both healthy and happy x ❤️

Lovecake profile image
Lovecake in reply to tattybogle

You’ve rumbled me 🙈🤦🏻‍♀️

gabkad profile image
gabkad in reply to tattybogle

Hee hee hee. I let the cat barf dry out on the Persian carpets. Then I vacuum up thebig bits, take a curry comb and bring up the dusty bits, vacuum those, and then use a

damp cloth. My cats always barf right after I've spent two day of four hours cleaning.

Well, apparently coasters were very 'working class' when they were invented because if you had to protect the table with coasters you were obviously poor because you couldn't just replace the whole table.

Maybe it's carpets these days instead of coasters! 😂

helvella profile image
helvellaAdministrator in reply to plant_lady

Was that "Dirty British coasters"?

tattybogle profile image
tattybogle in reply to helvella

ssrobin.com/history Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack ....

Thanks for inspiring an interesting read. (sorry for ringing your bell all night :) )

Brilliant - your comment has made me feel that I may not be going mad after all! TY. P.

helvella profile image
helvellaAdministrator

The NHS England documents blame one company.

The obviously don't blame the people who allowed such a domination of the market and failure to multiply-source vital products. Whether NHS management or political direction.

Becton Dickinson Blood Specimen Collection Portfolio – supply disruption

Document first published:

10 August 2021

Page updated:

26 August 2021

Topic:

Patient safety

Publication type:

Guidance

We have been notified of a supply disruption in relation to Becton Dickinson (BD) on their Blood Specimen Collection Portfolio. Details of the products impacted and the demand management measures in place are included in the Important Customer Notice, issued by NHS Supply Chain.

england.nhs.uk/publication/...

waveylines profile image
waveylines in reply to helvella

Ahhhh the old cop out....."it wasnt me gov'." How very mature fo them!!!!!! The impact will be huge and could affect operations amd treatment such as cancer.............is there no let up to the break neck speed of the descent of the NHS.

And you can all look forward to a 2% increase of NI tax! Apparantly this will sort out the NHS AND social care without having to sell your estate off. I should add that this 'generous' idea to be allowed to claim care without selling your home is full of government self interest. The level whereby you hit inheritance tax ((designed originally for the rich), hasnt been changed......the consequences being that an awful lot of people will hit this 40% tax because thevalue of their homes.....so they get your money in any case!!! And of course you can take out insurance (at a big premium)to claim it back but no doubt those in high office either own or have shares in such a company.

Assuming that the death rate from all medical causes (i.e. not including accidents) doesn't rise dramatically, I predict that numbers of tests carried out will never go back to what it was pre-shortage.

Lovecake profile image
Lovecake in reply to humanbean

I wonder if more and more people do the home fingerpick tests will mean GP surgeries do even less? I know the ref ranges tend to be different, but maybe doctors should be taught to interpret them - I’m not daft and I manage - and using Hellvella’s excel conversion chart is just brilliant

humanbean profile image
humanbean in reply to Lovecake

Sorry, I don't know which chart you're referring to. Helvella has done so many documents.

helvella profile image
helvellaAdministrator in reply to humanbean

I think:

helvella - Range Calculator Spreadsheet

A spreadsheet for calculating a test result as a percentage through the reference interval (range).

This is an Excel spreadsheet but is likely to work in other spreadsheet software.

From DropBox:

dropbox.com/s/2hux0bhfw4avh...

Lovecake profile image
Lovecake in reply to humanbean

The one where you can put results and ref ranges figures in and it tell you what percentage through the range your level is.Genius 😎

hyporeb profile image
hyporeb in reply to Lovecake

Interesting observation on my Patient Access App… and this was before the blood test tube announcement - There are now a whole load of links for various conditions you may be worried about (including Thyroid) and it basically takes you to where you can get a private test done.

I believe they have no intention of going back, which suits me fine because I avoid my NHS thyroid blood test like the plague 🙂

Lovecake profile image
Lovecake in reply to hyporeb

This is fine until we need a large set of tests done. I don’t like to be stabbed in my fingers too often for my home tests. I just hope that private clinics don’t charge too much if we need to go there for bloods to be taken in the future.I think I’m going to have to try and put money aside for tests etc. Won’t be easy as I don’t have loads spare. I only work very part time. Mainly due to the fact I couldn’t cope with much more, plus I need/want to look after my grandson while my daughter works.

waveylines profile image
waveylines in reply to Lovecake

Am sure those GPs who are interested and if allowed by their Local CCGs may Look to private tests but bare in mind if not tested they dont have to treat....... As for interpreting results am not aware that GPs actually do this......they just look at what the labs write and frankly that means you will either not be treated or will be under treated, in many cases. I think more and more of us will be reliant on private tests/care and/ or self treating..... This is already creating two groups -those that are optimally treated & are as well as can be and those not treated or undertreated suffering with unnecessary long term poorer health. If any one looked at this and compared life expectancy I suspect this will also show a divide. Sadly you may be elligble to NHS medical help at the point of entry but not neccesarily optimally or the best for you as the straight coat on nhs medical care and treatment ever tightens.

Lovecake profile image
Lovecake in reply to waveylines

Sad, but very true 😔

Have had trouble in the USA as well, but only for the “blue tops” which pertain to any test to measure blood clotting times , PT/ INR, D-Dimers…

fda.gov/medical-devices/let...

helvella profile image
helvellaAdministrator in reply to KellyInTexas

In the UK, it only affects two tubes:

1. 5mls Yellow top – SST 2 – clotted sample (e.g. U&E, LFTs etc)

2. Purple top – EDTA (e.g. FBC, HbA1c)

I know that top colours are not 100% consistent across countries. (Not even sure they are perfectly consistent within countries.)

Yes I have just had a text from my gp no blood test except emergencies fir the foreseeable future. Iv just ordered privately because I know with a change of dose I will feel terrible . whether I can carry on doing alternate doses as GP insisted is another matter because having palpitations for a long while can't be good.

I’m sorry your having problems with increased dose, I’m same here and feel awful as well. The bottle shortage is just a tast if what’s to come I recon. Talking of bottles there’s empty shelves in both my big supermarkets- no bottle water.

Hi Timetraveler67 I have been given a decreased dose and constant palpitations so not sure how long I can stand this as it’s been going on for a few weeks now. No bottles of water near me either.

Our surgery posted on the Fb page that due to shortage there would be cancellations of appointments for routine bloods and no further appointments made until mid September at soonest. Three days later my husband had a letter for annual diabetes screening with instructions to book a blood test. He phoned and had blood draw that same day. I am hoping they will leave my thyroid alone!

san_ray70 profile image
san_ray70 in reply to Miffie

I only get a blood test once a year for my under active thyroid. So maybe by next year it will be ok, otherwise how do they know how we are doing on the meds.

helvella profile image
helvellaAdministrator in reply to san_ray70

Many here are not convinced that a once-a-year TSH test informs them how we are doing. Me included.

If you think your are under- or over-dosed, you need to think about what to do. But if you are feeling well, you probably are doing OK.

We see hundreds of posts here where people have a TSH result that would be accepted as just fine by a GP - but who are actually still quite unwell.

san_ray70 profile image
san_ray70 in reply to helvella

I feel fine on most days, but if I go out on very hot days I tend to feel faint. I have seen my G.P. been tested for blood pressure, heart and blood test. She says it could be a heart problem, but I have to keep a check. So far as it has been cooler, I am ok.

vocalEK profile image
vocalEK in reply to helvella

But when you point this out to your doctor, he is quick to blame your symptoms on other things--especially if fatigue is a big one for you.

Miffie profile image
Miffie in reply to san_ray70

That’s been standard for many years now. I have six monthly reviews for other conditions. Only just getting back on track with increased ndt supplement to levo so in no hurry for any ridiculous testing and long discussions with GPs who have little understanding of thyroid health.

Goldengirl01 profile image
Goldengirl01 in reply to Miffie

My GP won’t do my thyroid so Iv ordered a home blood test kit, you may want to bear that in mind just in case.

No thanks the proffessionals have a problem taking my blood. So no way am I doing it. What happens if the blood test is not what you expect, do you have to try G.P. again?

Miffie profile image
Miffie in reply to san_ray70

You can use finger prick testing and provided you prepare properly it is not a problem for the majority of us. I regularly have problems with blood draw due to collapsing veins. The finger prick isn’t so bad.

The finger prick test is easy, you just prick the top side of a finger and let blood drip into a bottle up to a certain line. There are instructions inside that are easy to follow.

Miffie profile image
Miffie in reply to Goldengirl01

I have been doing my own thyroid testing for years as the local lab is adamant that any ‘in range’ TSH mean no fT4 or fT3 will not be done. My GP arranged with the senior biochemist that they would do full testing and when result came back the duty biochemist had overruled and it was TSH only. They are a law unto themselves and the senior consultant for Thyroid and Metabolic Disorders has stated only TSH matters. He even told me that no one needs fT3 in range and that fT4 didn’t really matter either! What an idiot! After sixty years of hypothyroidism I am not without sone understanding. I think he knew I was totally unimpressed with his witterings. He did do exactly what I had wanted however without any complaints. So now my GP has to accept ndt is ideal for me. I use Medichecks for full vitamin testing as required and MMH for routine thyroid.

Arlenka profile image
Arlenka in reply to Miffie

Could you please pm me as to where you get ndt as I’ve asked GP and endocrinologist, but was refused. I had total thyroidectomy in 1978 due to Graves’ disease. Thanks in advance x

I have just this morning, read a report about the shortage of lorry drivers in the UK. It seems that now drivers from the EU countries have gone home and it is difficult for companies to recruit more from across the EU due to Brexit. It said that 100,000 lorry drivers are required.I thought it was strange that this week we had shortages and substitutions in the shopping order which hasn’t happened for a year or more since everyone started supermarket shopping online, these days slots are empty because most have returned to shopping in the actual shops.

So it looks to be that Brexit is starting to have an effect on things.

After being given a date for my Annual Review at my surgery at the beginning of the week, half-an-hour ago I was phoned to say it was cancelled because of this reason.

OMG will it never end??? What next? How many people might this kill?

I am still fighting with the powers that be about the labs deciding what to test. The latest was from Eluned Morgan, head of Health in Wales, telling me it was due to the labs being busy with covid. Wales health work to a document called "Prudence Wales" which came into effect in 2016. She got a very curt reply and am now awaiting her answer.

A vein burst in my wrist while I was not doing anything. The GP did some blood tests and found I had a clotting problem (AZ vaccine?). Further tests were due but have now been "delayed". If you dont hear from me again.....

Lovecake profile image
Lovecake in reply to serenfach

Think you’d better do a post in a few weeks to let us know how you are getting on. I’m going to be wondering now………🙈Hope you are ok by the way.

Arlenka profile image
Arlenka in reply to serenfach

If you feel unwell, please don’t hesitate to call 999. It might take them awhile to come, but persevere. I know we’ve had COVID, but everyone seems to be put on the back burner. Take care of yourself… x

oooh it looks like they are coming up with other way's to fill their time instead. i just got a text saying "we notice your last blood pressure recording was over 12mths ago, if you have a BP monitor at home please text back your reading. Alternatively you can use one of our public machines in reception. This will enable us to update your medical records . Thanks."

There's never been anything wrong with my blood pressure and this lot haven't bothered measuring it since i joined in 2015, unlike me last surgery who sensibly did it routinely along with weight at every thyroid blood test.

I must have reached the age where they want to find an excuse to prescribe me some statins.

Happy birthday to me.

I haven't decided what to text back yet... all suggestions gratefully received ..

I dont know what the drs are doing, they ring and ask me to take my temperature, BP and O2. They just don’t want to open their surgeries completely anymore. I have had a non productive cough for a year now, first X-ray showed nothing so I was left, recently I asked for an appointment because I’d rather they listen to the chest but no, another X-ray with added palpitations. I have a feeling the dry cough and palps are connected but we will see.

My daughter did get invited to see a real live GP in person yesterday , but she's got galloping pustulent tonsillitis and was getting worse instead of better on penicillin. So i think they will still see you, but only if you're nearly dead.

Lol that’s what I’m worried about…..my gp thinks it’s probably thyroid so has lowered my dose because of course she thinks I’m over medicated because my tsh is 0.02. Iv been on 100mcg levo for must be a year at least so if I lower it to 75 that will fix my year long problem.

I'm sorry to say this, but X-Rays aren't reliable for checking lungs for cancer, if that is what was being checked for. My mother had a terrible cough for months. She couldn't speak because of it and also threw up a lot. She finally got an X-Ray and was told "Good news, Mrs X, your lungs are fine." Roughly five weeks later she was hospitalised and was finally given an MRI (because the doctors finally realised that her cough was dreadful, but only because they heard it themselves) at which time she was told, sorry, but it turns out you've got advanced lung cancer.

Oh no I am so sorry that is dreadful treatment. My dr just put on X-ray sheet, intermittent cough for a year, intermittent wheeze for a year, hypothyroid, on thyroxine and Liothyronine. I just have to wait and see but it will probably come back clear.

Same here with all the home tests, only my husband gets seen by a nurse to do with his diabetes checkups, the doctor just rings or texts if she has to comment on what the nurse has noticed 🤷‍♀️

serenfach profile image
serenfach in reply to tattybogle

That texts like these raise your blood pressure?

If I send you a reading, what are you going to compair it with?

tattybogle profile image
tattybogle in reply to serenfach

ROFL :)

Just seen a message from my surgery saying only urgent blood tests will be done for the next 3 months.

SeasideSusie profile image
SeasideSusieAdministrator

I don't think the colour was mentioned in the article I saw about NHS Wales.

I attend a hospital to have an injection every 3 months. They have cancelled the appointment and offered me a "video conference".

My broadband runs at around half a mg, so will not do video, and there is no mobile signal at all.

I am looking around the computer to see what slot a syringe could come out of!

tattybogle profile image
tattybogle in reply to serenfach

no silly ... your s'posed to get your sheep worming syringe ready beforehand and wait for them to tell you where to stick it . Duh !

Do you think I should get a new needle? :)

tattybogle profile image
tattybogle in reply to serenfach

Bit extravagant don't you think ? .. after all, there's bound to be a 'needle shortage' coming along soon.

Yeah, heard that today from our receptionist but after I said I’d had Covid at the beginning of the month she ‘let’ me have an appointment ie phonecall (which I don’t actually mind, I don’t need to physically see her) so that I can discuss it with GP. I guess the answer may be no.

NWA6 profile image
NWA6 in reply to NWA6

So the answer was no, blood test only for with cancer and other extreme medical cases, she’s put me down for a test for Oct and suggested I get them done privately if I want results sooner. I said that I’m already paying for bi annual private blood tests and my T3 is more than 4 times what I paid pre Brexit, so I said I would increase my dose without a blood test and experiment. I’d more than likely know if I’d made the right choice based on symptoms alone but that I’d take the blood test in Oct.

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