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Blood vial shortages in England and Wales

A lady giving blood

NHS England and NHS Wales have reported a shortage of blood collection tubes. This is due to a global shortage which is expected to last until the middle of September. 

As a result, GP services have temporarily stopped all non-urgent blood tests, and hospitals have tight restrictions on the blood tests they can do. 

What does this mean for people with diabetes?

Only blood tests considered clinically urgent are being done by NHS primary care and hospital services for the moment.

How will vial shortages affect those living with diabetes and at increased risk of the condition?

People with diabetes will not be able to get the blood tests that support an annual review.  If people have annual reviews booked in the next month or so they are likely to be cancelled unless they have already had the blood tests done recently.  

The NHS advises that clinically urgent blood tests include those that are extremely overdue or essential for prescribing of medication or monitoring of a condition. This means it is possible that some people with diabetes may be considered in need of urgent blood tests. If you believe that you fall into this category, contact your GP surgery or your diabetes healthcare team.

What are we saying about this? 

We are concerned for the people who have still not had their annual diabetes review who may have already had appointments cancelled during the pandemic — as these are likely to be further delayed.

We know many thousands of diagnoses of type 2 diabetes were missed during the pandemic, and we are concerned that diagnoses will continue to be missed due to this logistical issue. It's very important that this situation is resolved as soon as possible.

What is our advice?

We encourage everyone to find out their risk of type 2 diabetes by using our Know Your Risk Tool. If you are at high risk, you can and will be referred directly to the NHS England Diabetes Prevention Programme – no blood test needed. 

The symptoms of type 2 diabetes can develop much more slowly than the symptoms of type 1 diabetes. If you are showing the 4Ts symptoms of diabetes – which include going to the toilet a lot, being very thirsty, feeling more tired than usual and losing weight without trying –  contact your GP immediately.

With regards to children and young people who experience the 4Ts symptoms of diabetes, we recommend that they are taken straight to the doctor and insist on a test for type 1 diabetes, there and then. A quick diagnosis and early treatment, means you can avoid becoming seriously ill with the life threatening condition diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).

How long will this last?

NHS England have put the tight restrictions in place until 17th September when it anticipates the position should improve, but they say overall supply is likely to remain challenging for a significant period of time.

If you do have any concerns about your condition or you are experiencing any new symptoms, it is very important to speak to your GP surgery or diabetes healthcare team.

If you’re worried about any aspect of your diabetes care, we’re here for you. Our Helpline Team is available Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm, either on 0345 123 2399 or at

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