NHS supply chain is ‘weeks too slow’, says supplier

At times like these we need individuals in Whitehall who know when to cut the red tape (see previous article by Max Hastings)

A supplier of personal protective equipment (PPE) has warned that government bureaucracy has made it impossible to buy the necessary supplies.

Tim Shipman  www.thetimes.co.uk

Howard Amor of Seren Plus, a pharmaceutical supplier with 40 years of experience with Chinese suppliers, was contacted three weeks ago by NHS Supply Chain, the agency that buys kit for the health service, and asked to help.

He provided quotes to supply surgical masks, protective suits, eye protection and sanitising gel, pledging to supply samples within three days.

There was no response. Amor has supplied new quotes every seven days as market prices change. “We’ve heard nothing back from the NHS, except one response to complain that our updates had confused them. The NHS is weeks too slow to compete adequately in this volatile market and against other buyers who are way more aggressive,” he said.

“Foreign governments are paying cash (sometimes over the odds) to secure production capacity and stock.”

Instead, the government has offered to pay after 30 days. “The market in China demands payment up front. Suppliers don’t have infinite cash to finance a national crisis. Government needs to find a funding solution.”

A spokesman said the government was processing offers from 6,000 suppliers: “We are working rapidly to get through orders and ensure they meet the safety and quality standards that our NHS staff need. We have delivered more than a billion pieces of PPE equipment to the front line so far.”