The Department of Health and Social Care has started its Brexit preparations, initially leading a procurement exercise for an express freight service to deliver medicines and medical parts into the country.
The contract, estimated to be worth £25 million, is part of the Government’s plans to support continuity of medical supplies if the UK leaves the EU as currently scheduled on 31st October.
The service is intended to deliver small parcels of medicines or medical products on a 24-hour basis, with additional provision to move larger pallet quantities on a two to four day basis.
The service will be available to the whole of the UK.
While the majority of goods will be standard medicines and medical products, the express freight service can also deliver temperature-controlled products if needed.
The contract, published in the Official Journal of the European Union, will run for 12 months, with a possible further 12-month extension. Potential bidders have until 21 August to submit proposals. The successful provider(s) are expected to be announced in September.
£4 million of the total value is expected to be through tax, although this figure could decrease.
The service will provide an additional level of contingency as part of necessary preparations to leave the EU on 31 October whatever the circumstances, supported by an additional £2 billion from the Treasury across government.
This money includes £434 million to help ensure continuity of vital medicines and medical products through freight capacity, warehousing and stockpiling.
The service will support plans that include building buffer stocks of medicines, changing or clarifying regulatory requirements so companies can sell into the UK, strengthening the process used to deal with shortages, procuring extra warehouse capacity and supporting companies to improve readiness of their logistics and supply chains to meet new customs and border regulations for import and export.
“I want to ensure that when we leave the EU at the end of October, all appropriate steps have been taken to ensure frontline services are fully prepared,” said Chris Skidmore, Health Minister.
“That’s why we are stepping up preparations and strengthening our already extremely resilient contingency plans.
“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.”