All blood testing by GP’s has been urged to halt unless it is an emergency due to a critical shortage of blood test tubes.

In a central alert released on Thursday, NHS England said there was a supply issue with blood test tubes and that it was likely the problem would get worse over the next few weeks.

NHS England said that non-emergency primary care and community testing must stop except for clinically urgent testing while it asked acute and mental health trusts across England to reduce blood testing by at least 25% over the next three weeks leading to September 17, 2021.

It added that while the situation was expected to improve by mid September, supply would continue to be a challenge for a while.

The alert said: “The supply position remains constrained and is forecasted to become even more constrained over the coming weeks.

“While it is anticipated that the position will improve from the middle of September, overall supply is likely to remain challenging for a significant period.

“Alternative products are being sought to alleviate these constraints; and all labs that will be switching to these supplies have received samples for testing and validation.

"However, it will take time for these products to be imported and delivered in volume to services. It is important and urgent that demand is reduced as much as possible and that this letter is acted upon immediately.

“These measures are proportionate to the challenge presented by this supply constraint and immediate implementation of this guidance is expected.”