Vaughan Gething MS, Minister for Health and Social Services
Members will be aware that the EU transition period comes to an end on 31 December 2020. Preparations continue in relation to health and social care, taking account of the latest position in negotiations between the UK Government and the EU. A key priority within this activity is ensuring robust arrangements are in place for the continued supply of medicines and other medical products.
I am pleased to update Members that good progress has been made with planning for the continued supply of medicines and medical products, helping to ensure services are as well prepared as reasonably possible for a range of scenarios at the end of the year. Our approach draws on, and builds upon, the arrangements developed ahead of the UK leaving the EU, and also takes into account our experiences from this year’s pandemic.
Our continuity of supply arrangements combine bespoke Welsh arrangements with participation in UK-wide arrangements, which are largely led by the UK Government’s Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). By taking this multi-layered approach, we maximize our confidence and assurance in arrangements for managing potential disruption following the transition period.
Examples of bespoke Welsh arrangements include:
- A governance mechanism for joint contingency planning by Welsh Government, NHS Wales and Social Services;
- The previous ‘Brexit’ stock build of medical devices and clinical consumables (MDCCs) has been reviewed and replenished, led by NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership, with this work now nearing completion;
- Agreement with health board Medical Directors on the procedures for adding further products to the stock build, and on managing solutions to any supply issues with MDCCs which may arise;
- Carrying out a testing exercise (Operation Artful) on 9 November of the Wales level arrangements for the identification and resolution of potential supply issues with MDCCs, and refining the arrangements in light of the exercise; and
- Preparing specific guidance for social care on medicines and accessing MDCCs from the stock build.
I have recently written to the UK Government Minister of State for Health, Edward Argar MP, to confirm Wales’ participation in the following elements delivered at the UK level:
- Additional support for the contingency team for medicines to boost its programme and analytical capabilities;
- An engagement and communication exercise with suppliers of medicines and MDCCs to assess their readiness for the end of the transition period;
- An express freight service for supply of medicines and medical products to health and social care organisations, which will be available if a supplier’s own transport arrangements fail and other UK Government freight solution are unable to resolve the issue in the timescales required; and
- The UK-wide National Supply Disruption Response (NSDR) system which provides a single point of contact for shortage issues experienced by health and social care services.
This combination of Welsh and UK-wide arrangements provides us with as high a level of assurance on the continuity of medicines and medical products supplies as reasonably possible, ahead of the EU transition period coming to an end, and into a period of adjusting to the UK’s new relationship with the EU.