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IBMS statement on blood tube shortage
Clarification on the Becton Dickinson shortage and next steps
The UK’s pathology services are experiencing major disruptions to their supplies of blood test tubes due to the ‘just in time’ manufacturing model and an over reliance on a limited number of suppliers of the test tubes. Therefore, the routine maintenance closure of the Becton Dickinson factory, along with the increased global demand for blood test tubes, had a knock-on effect for the supply chain, resulting in potential disruption for patients. As pathology services seek alternative products, this will also lead to disruptions in other supply lines, widening the issue.
The supply issues with Becton Dickinson emphasise the need for pathology services to work in a more co-ordinated way, within networks with clear leadership structures, to ensure that the supplier base is wide, and so that pooled and shared resources can prevent significant disruption and mitigate the risk when issues do occur. To manage what is a highly complex supply base with many global components, this co-ordination should include national oversight and engagement with pathology and procurement experts.
The steps that are currently being taken by the NHS in England, Scotland and Wales will ensure that patients in need of blood tests will still be able to access them in good time. However, it will have an impact on the wider NHS recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic response and this will need to be factored in as pathology, phlebotomy and primary care services need to be supported accordingly.
Our experienced and highly skilled biomedical scientists and laboratory staff will be essential during the coming weeks and months. By reducing demand on the tubes in question, they will be able to ensure that disruption to services and patient harm are minimised.
With over 19,000 members in 73 countries, the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) is the leading professional body for scientists, support staff and students in the field of biomedical science.
For over 100 years we have been dedicated to the promotion, development and delivery of excellence in biomedical science within all aspects of healthcare, and to providing the highest standards of service to patients and the public.
By supporting our members in their practice we set quality standards for the profession through: training, education, assessments, examinations and continuous professional development. We offer research grants to members to advance biomedical science, supporting their original research into scientific developments.
Our publications and training events ensure our members are kept up to date on the latest scientific developments and news.
Through public relations and marketing campaigns, we raise awareness of the vital role biomedical science plays in healthcare and promote career opportunities in the profession.