The BDA is concerned about supply issues caused by shortages in Nutrition Borderline Substances (NBS), used to manage medical conditions and enteral feeding ancillaries as a result of global supply chain challenges, being felt across all four nations of the UK. These shortages cause distress to patients and have considerable impact on patient safety. The result is a range of impacts on patients from insidious harm caused by increased anxiety to adverse events requiring hospital admission.
A recent BAPEN survey highlights supply issues between January – June 2022 which included problems with adult, paediatric Oral Nutritional Supplements (ONS), enteral feeds and gastrostomy tubes.
In addition to patient and carer distress, these issues are causing significant additional workload across the health and care system, leading to increased waiting times and increased patient risk, whilst alternative products are sourced and new care plans are implemented.
The BDA is pleased that there is now joint working between health professionals, industry, DHSC and patient bodies to support improved timely communication, clinical decision making in sourcing alternative products and the provision of clinical oversight to mitigate risks where possible. There needs to be a consistent approach to data collection and reporting and managing harm caused by this issue which is affecting all four nations of the UK.
The BDA is calling for greater recognition of the unintentional harm caused by supply disruption, the lack of management processes for NBS products, and that this is both a patient safety issue and a cost pressure for the NHS.
The BDA is also calling for NBS products, including products used to manage medical conditions, to have dedicated clinicians managing supplies in a fair and equitable manner, in the same way the Pharmacists manage medicine resources when supplies are limited, and to ensure there is appropriate advice on clinical and cost effectiveness.