PSNC hosts cross-sector meeting on medicines supply chain resilience

PSNC today brought together stakeholders from across the supply chain, including the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I), to share intelligence and consider the impact of the ongoing problems with fuel supply.

Attendees broadly agreed that the situation has started to improve. But it was acknowledged that some geographical areas continue to be affected by delays to deliveries of medicines. And the impact on workload and stress levels for everyone across the supply chain, including in pharmacies, remains considerable.

The DHSC thanked everyone working in the medicines supply chain for the tremendous efforts that they had made to ensure the continuity of supply to patients. They also reassured attendees that there is sufficient stock of medicines within the supply chain, and restated their ask that everyone avoids stockpiling medicines or facilitating patients to do so.

The Healthcare Distribution Association (HDA) explained the huge amount of extra workaround work being undertaken by their member companies to ensure pharmacies receive their deliveries as near-to-normal as possible. Most large wholesaler sites hold diesel stocks on site and have been receiving their fuel supplies as normal, but there have been many challenges obtaining garage forecourt fuel where that isn’t the case.

Some wholesalers are also experiencing unpredictable deliveries of medicines into their warehouses, due to the HGV driver shortages, but while this presents logistical challenges for them, the impact on pharmacies is largely being mitigated by the buffer stocks that wholesalers routinely hold.

HGV driver shortages were also discussed and DHSC assured the sector that business continuity plans are in place.

PSNC and pharmacy organisations highlighted the continuing impact on pharmacy teams who are working hard to ensure that any disruption for patients is kept to a minimum, and all meeting attendees agreed on the need to continue to come together to keep a watch on this and any other emerging situations.

The meeting was also attended by representatives from organisations including the Company Chemists Association (CCA), The Association of Independent Multiples (AIMp), the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and the Consumer Healthcare Association (PAGB).

Following the meeting, PSNC Director, Legal, Gordon Hockey commented:

“The continued patient access to medicines throughout the fuel supply issues has been testament to the robustness of the medicines supply chain, as well as the incredible work of pharmacy teams and others across the supply chain to minimise the impact of any disruption.

We were pleased to hear from DHSC and the HDA today that the situation regarding medicines deliveries is beginning to improve, and PSNC will continue to work with all stakeholders to closely monitor the impact of fuel supplies and driver shortages on medicines deliveries and pharmacy businesses more broadly.

Contractors should continue to report any issues to us via our shortages reporting form.”

 

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