Susan van de Ven

Liberal Democrat County Councillor for Bassingbourn, Melbourn, Meldreth and Whaddon Learn more

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Hospital Stockpiling

by Susan van de Ven on 21 January, 2019

(‘Resilience and Supplies’ or just ‘Contingency Planning’)

From local meetings over the past several weeks:

Local organisations are taking action to ensure that disruption to hospital supplies expected after March 29 is managed to a level that ensures our safety as much as possible. Good to know there’s some joined up thinking.

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Local Resilience Forum is part of Regional Resilience Planning, dealing with ports, fuel and so on. The Department of Health is ostensibly in charge of ‘resilience and supplies’ and insists that hospitals should leave them to it. But most NHS hospitals are apparently taking their own measures to build up their own supplies.

Hospitals have concerns over maintaining their six week stocks, not just for medicines but also for medical devices, spare parts and catering.

A very high proportion of drugs, devices and spare parts come from overseas. The remaining small proportion of UK manufactured goods is tied up in international supply chains.

Radioisotopes used in some cancer treatments is one example of drugs with a short shelf life, which must be flown in. However, there is wide uncertainty about how customs and regulatory rules might change in ten weeks’ time, meaning that there might be major disruption to existing smooth movement of goods across the EU which in turn could put patients’ lives and health at risk.

There’s no special budget for all of this. Hospitals (many already under severe financial pressure) are just doing it as part of responsible contingency planning – an unusually prolonged contingency period to be preparing for.

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