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A major supply chain failure at the distribution warehouse of Swiss diagnostics company Roche in Newhaven, East Sussex has delayed NHS blood tests and screenings for diseases including Covid-19 and cancer.

The company has admitted “unforseen issues” with automation at the site, which it opened last month, have led to a "very significant" drop in processing capacity which it "deeply regrets".

It is understood the problem is being worked on “around the clock” but could affect thousands of patients.

“The current issue with the despatch of products in the UK has not and will not affect our commitment to supply Covid-19 tests," Geoff Twist, general manager of Roche Diagnostics UK and Ireland told

“We are confident that the plans we have put in place will deliver significant improvements by the weekend to the supply of the tests affected by these logistical issues. We will be well on the way to resolution by the end of next week.

“In the meantime, we are working closely with the NHS in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and the HSE in Ireland, to minimize the impact on critical services which rely on our products - including cancer, cardiac and infectious diseases.

“The supply of Roche medicines is continuing as normal."

“I would like to thank our partners within the NHS and HSE for working with us to keep providing vital diagnostic services to patients during this exceptionally challenging time. I would like to restate how deeply we regret the impact this has had and extend my personal apology to our customers.”

The company has advised local NHS services to activate local contingency plans and look to prioritise essential services only.

The affected warehouse is said to have been built to increase capacity ahead of Brexit. It is the company’s only distribution centre in the UK and covers the whole country.

Roche declined to comment further.