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Last week the NHS told GPs to halt all non-urgent blood tests and hospitals to cut demand by 25 percent.
The British Medical Association said doctors would have to make difficult choices if the shortage worsens. Dr David Wrigley, BMA council deputy chair, said: “This crisis has put doctors and their patients in a terrible, unenviable position.
“We are at a very perilous point and it’s surprising that NHS England hasn’t declared a critical incident given the very strong possibility that NHS organisations may temporarily lose the ability to provide lifesaving diagnostic testing.”
Dr Wrigley said that if doctors did not reduce testing, even urgent blood tests may not be able to go ahead.
He added “Many GP practices will have to spend hours assessing which already scheduled tests can or cannot be cancelled and this takes time away from patient care.”
The shortage comes after supplier Becton Dickinson reported temporary supplychain issues. NHS England has warned it could worsen before it is expected to improve from mid-September.
It said: “Overall supply is likely to remain challenging for a significant period.”
The Health Department said it was working flat out “to put mitigations in place and restore normal supply”.
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