A backlog of key NHS tests – including for coronavirus and cancer could take several days sitting in a warehouse due to a logistical failure.
Problems with supplies began to emerge last week after Swiss pharmaceutical firm Roche moved to a new warehouse which decreased processing capacity. Essential tests including cancer and heart disease could be affected by the supply chain failure.
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.”
Many patients could miss out on essential blood tests and screening because of the backlog. The breakdown in supply chain to the NHS will affect a number of hospitals as Roche is one of the major suppliers of diagnostic testing equipment and materials in the UK.
An NHS spokesman said: “Roche has alerted hospitals to an issue with their supply chain, and they will be working urgently to resolve this issue.”
Hospitals will have to ration blood tests and screening to avoid running out of swabs, the president of the Institute of Biomedical Science, Allan Wilson advised.
“This could turn out to be a significant issue,” he said.