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Alliance to 'replenish' stock following high demand for lateral flow tests

Alliance Healthcare is striving to “ensure a consistent supply” of lateral flow testing kits in pharmacies across the UK after demand for them surged over the weekend, it has told C+D.

The wholesaler is “working hard to replenish stock levels” and will “continue to review stock and order levels”, an Alliance Healthcare spokesperson told C+D yesterday (December 13).

"Some Alliance Healthcare Service Centres may be experiencing delays on being able to supply orders", the spokesperson said, although the wholesaler has "adjusted our order levels accordingly to meet any increased demand and stocks should be replenished within the next 24-48 hours".

"In some areas, to alleviate the high volumes, some orders may arrive via Parcel Force, within a five day window. Pharmacy stores should continue to order in the same way via our ordering portal myahportal," they said.

They also advised that pharmacies looking to order test kits should visit Alliance Healthcare’s customer ordering platform, myahportal, “for the latest situation” on stock levels.



 “Plenty of stock still available”



In an update on its website, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) wrote yesterday that it had “been advised by NHS Test and Trace that plenty of stock is still available to pharmacies via Alliance Healthcare”, and suggested pharmacy contractors continue ordering “one carton of test kits per day”.


“It may [sometimes] appear” that there is no test kit stock available on Alliance's system, PSNC said, as the test kit brand supplied "changes from time to time”.


But any orders for “previously distributed products” should, however, auto-direct to the in-stock testing kit brand so that orders can be placed, it continued.


Contractors “are likely to have seen a significant increase in demand” for lateral flow tests after the Prime Minister addressed the public on Sunday night, where he advised people to urgently get their COVID-19 booster jabs following a spike in Omicron variant cases in the UK, PSNC added.


It first emerged yesterday that no rapid lateral flow tests are available for home delivery via the government’s website, which as of today (December 14) still advises users to collect their test kits from a pharmacy or collection point instead.



 “Procession of people” seeking tests



Yesterday was a “particularly busy day for lateral flow test collection” for Reena Barai, owner of the S G Barai Pharmacy in Sutton, with patients reporting that “there were none available when they tried to order online”, she told C+D today (December 14).


Luckily, Ms Barai ordered test kits in advance after PSNC warned of increased demand over the winter months in a newsletter circulated on November 23, and had “plenty” in stock. 


“Supplies are available from Alliance Healthcare too”, Ms Barai told C+D, although many contractors did not receive their test kit orders as they “weren’t aware” of a change in PIP code.


The PIP code for the current tests – the ‘DHSC ORIENT GENE test kits’ – is 8943995, PSNC wrote on its website yesterday.


In Halifax, West Yorkshire, Heath Pharmacy manager Amanda Smith also had a “procession of people” visiting the premises for lateral flow tests, she told C+D yesterday (December 13).


The pharmacy ran out of tests kits yesterday morning but received a fresh delivery the same afternoon.


Ms Smith said she did not expect that stock to last “very long”, as patients continued to pick tests kits up throughout the afternoon.


Leyla Hannbeck, the CEO of the Association of Independent Multiple pharmacies, called on the Department on Health and Social care this morning in a tweet “to ensure that pharmacies can immediately access a seamless continuous supply” of lateral flow test kits to meet “unprecedented demand” that followed the publication of new COVID-19 government guidelines on Sunday.


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