Delivery of testing material for COVID-19, diabetes, cancer and other conditions will face delays due to an NHS supplier’s logistical problems.
As a result, thousands of patients could miss out on critical testing.
The company, Roche Diagnostics, confirmed it was having problems at its warehouse in South East England, apologising for the delay in a statement.
Roche is a main provider of tests used as part of the NHS Test and Trace programme to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
One GP told Sky News that he had been told to pause blood tests and screenings for cancer and diabetes, including for those on long-term medication.
“It’s a nightmare”, said Dr. Phil Williams speaking to Sky News, “We are concerned about delaying annual patient reviews that may have already been delayed by COVID. It means complications will go undetected as medications are not monitored”.
The disruption follows a glitch at the end of last week in the test and trace programme, where thousands of positive results were unreported. The error caused concern that tens of thousands encountering an infected person had not been traced through the system.
Due to shortages caused by its switching warehouse location in September, Roche will not be able to deliver chemical reagents, swabs and screening kits to certain NHS trusts and diagnostic labs.
The Swiss pharmaceutical company said it would prioritise supplying PCR and antibody tests.
“As well as extending working hours, we have recruited extra staff and, where they can, our dedicated teams on the ground are working with customers to distribute products and minimise service disruption”, the company said in a statement.
“We will continue to provide regular updates to our customers and we are doing everything possible to return to routine operations.”
An NHS spokesperson said:
“Roche has alerted hospitals to an issue with their supply chain, and they will be working urgently to resolve this issue”.