Cookie policy: This site uses cookies (small files stored on your computer) to simplify and improve your experience of this website. Cookies are small text files stored on the device you are using to access this website. For more information please take a look at our terms and conditions. Some parts of the site may not work properly if you choose not to accept cookies.

Join

Subscribe or Register

Existing user? Login

Supply chain

Government tenders £25m contract for 'express freight service' to transport urgent medicines after Brexit

The UK goverment has asked for bids on an express freight service worth more than eight times their original offering in July 2019.

Freight ship

Source: Shutterstock.com

The chosen supplier would be permitted to use any mode of transport to import medicines, as long as they meet the timescale requirements and conditions of carriage, and effectively mitigate forseeable disruptions to the service

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is looking for bids on a contract to set up an “express freight service” ahead of the UK leaving the EU at the end of October 2019.

The two-year contract, published on 23 July 2019 and worth £25m, is more than eight times the cost of the initial prior information notice for the service worth £3m, which was published on 1 July 2019.

The DHSC has said the cost increase was because the original contract only covered three months of running the service and the new cost also accounts for an increased capacity.

According to the contract notice, the express freight service is expected to deliver small “time sensitive shipments” within 24 hours or larger pallets of medicines within 4 days.

It is also expected to transport medical radioisotopes, controlled drugs and temperature-controlled products requiring frozen or refrigerated storage.

The chosen supplier will be free to use “any mode of transport”, according to the contract, as long as it is “compatible with the transit timescale requirements, conditions of carriage and the effective mitigation of foreseeable disruption to services”.

In a statement, the DHSC said the service “will provide an additional level of contingency as part of necessary preparations to leave the EU on 31 October 2019, whatever the circumstances”.

Mike Thompson, chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, welcomed the extra capacity to transport medicines to UK patients, adding that pharmaceutical “companies look forward to the detail of how this extra freight capacity will work in practice”.

Mark Dayan, policy analyst at the Nuffield Trust, said the service “is a good idea”, but added that “complicated new processes for customs” will mean companies “will have to reroute all their supply lines overnight”.

“Any teething problems that result will have a sharp impact on care as vital supplies that can’t last more than a few days become useless,” he added.

A spokesperson for the British Medical Association (BMA) added that it was “beyond alarming” that the supplier for the service has yet to be appointed.

David Wrigley, deputy chair of the BMA, said: “This latest announcement from the government is a further indication of the chaos that will lay in store for the NHS and patients in the event of a no-deal Brexit, and highlights just how costly this will be.”

The contract for an express service comes after NHS Confederation said a government review of its Brexit planning found that initial plans to commission daily flights between the UK and EU countries to transport urgent medicines was “not an incredibly efficient way of doing it”.

The “express freight service” is expected to be fully operational from 24 October 2019 “to allow for testing in advance of full operational sign off” by 31 October 2019.

Health minister Chris Skidmore said: “This express freight service sends a clear message to the public that our plans should ensure supply of medical goods remains uninterrupted as we leave the EU.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20206958

Have your say

For commenting, please login or register as a user and agree to our Community Guidelines. You will be re-directed back to this page where you will have the ability to comment.

Recommended from Pharmaceutical Press

  • BNF and BNF for Children

    BNF and BNF for Children

    Now available as a 1 year print subscription to both the BNF and BNFC, ensuring you have the latest medicines information as it publishes and at a greatly reduced price.

    £138.50Buy now
  • BNF and BNF for Children

    BNF and BNF for Children

    Now available as a 2 year print subscription to both the BNF and BNFC, ensuring you have the latest medicines information as it publishes and at a greatly reduced price.

    £262.50Buy now
  • International Research in Healthcare

    International Research in Healthcare

    Guidance for students or researchers undertaking a multi-centre research project in health services, medicines use and professional practice.

    £38.00Buy now
  • Drugs in Use

    Drugs in Use

    Optimise drug therapy for your patients. These case studies help you bridge the gap between theoretical medicines knowledge and practical applications.

    £43.00Buy now
  • Pharmaceutical Toxicology

    Pharmaceutical Toxicology

    Explains the methodology and requirements of pre-clinical safety assessments of new medicines. Includes registration requirements and pharmacovigilance.

    £40.00Buy now

Search an extensive range of the world’s most trusted resources

Powered by MedicinesComplete
  • Print
  • Share
  • Comment
  • Save
  • Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

Jobs you might like

Newsletter Sign-up

Want to keep up with the latest news, comment and CPD articles in pharmacy and science? Subscribe to our free alerts.