With an NHS shortage of the test tubes required for taking blood samples, leading testing provider Better2Know is showing how the private sector can fill the testing void.  First, let us look at the issue in more depth, and the reasons behind it:

GPs in the UK are having to make difficult choices about which patients receive blood tests and the medical conditions they test for thanks to a shortage of test tubes, as reported by the BBC this week.

The BBC report goes on to mention that because the vials used for blood tests are in such short supply, the NHS in England and Wales is temporarily stopping all non-urgent testing.

The reason for this shortage is due to several factors, including manufacturing and supply issues, transportation, and UK border checks.  There is also a record demand for sample collection tubes because of the need generated by Covid-19 testing.

As a result of the shortage, the NHS has told hospitals and surgeries to ‘temporarily stop some blood testing’, meaning patients will only receive tests if their condition is deemed urgent.  Some of the tests that have been put on hold include those for regular health checks, allergies, fertility, and pre-diabetes.

There is also concern from some cancer charities, that this could disadvantage those worried about a sign or symptom of cancer and may even mean patients with potential worries not even visiting their GP, when early diagnosis can often be crucial.

However, the situation for those needing tests is not completely lost.  Private companies such as Better2Know can test for all the conditions mentioned and many more besides, either via one of the home testing kits displayed on their website or through a network of nationwide clinics.  So, if you are affected by any of the issues above you can still be sure to get the tests you need.

Also, many of the home sample collection tests conducted by Better2Know use what are known as “microtainer” test tubes, which require a smaller blood sample via a finger prick test, meaning this does not take vital supplies of the larger tubes away from the NHS.

As well as being able to test for a comprehensive range of conditions, Better2Know is also the UK’s largest private provider of sexual health testing services, and a government approved provider of Covid-19 testing services.  The company also provides many other routine health tests, such as for vitamins, nutrition, and infectious diseases.

Mike Asher, CEO of Better2Know, commented:

‘With demand for testing, both in the UK and abroad, as a private business we knew we needed to act early to ensure we were still giving our patients the best level of service they have come to expect.  Patients can be reassured that if they come to us for their tests, whatever they might be, Better2Know will be able to fulfil their requirements, with many options available, including clinic visits and home testing kits.’

It remains to be seen how long this shortage will last within the NHS.  Some are suggesting that the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better, and estimates are that it will continue until the end of September and possibly beyond. 

At least it is reassuring to know that private companies like Better2Know are enabling vital testing to continue as normal.  To learn more about the conditions Better2Know tests for and to speak to one of their trained advisors visit www.better2know.co.uk or call on 0207 099 0955.


[1] BBC: NHS blood test tube shortage

[2] BBC: NHS blood tests: Charities concerned over postponements

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