Medicines Supply Update: Fuel and driver shortages being closely monitored
Update: 28 September 2021
We understand that a significant number of pharmacies will have disrupted deliveries today and we have flagged this to DHSC. We have been clear that pharmacies and medicines supply teams must be included in any prioritisation that the Government wishes to introduce for fuel supplies (though at the moment there is still no indication that priority groups will be introduced).
The HDA said its Members were working hard to maintain supply despite very difficult conditions, and that pharmacies whose supply had been disrupted would be prioritised for deliveries tomorrow.
PSNC has been monitoring the medicines supply situation, working with the Healthcare Distribution Association (HDA) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), for many months, looking at factors such as the reported shortages of HGV drivers, continuing impact of COVID-19 and travel disruption.
The fuel supply issue over the weekend is yet another factor adding stress to the supply chain, and potentially for pharmacists getting to work.
The feedback we have been getting from contractors suggests a mixed picture across the country, with the supply situation undoubtedly worse now for some pharmacies. Today some pharmacies were affected by missed deliveries following events over the weekend.
We understand that different wholesalers have different ways they access fuel supplies and, therefore, some areas of the country may be more affected than others.
We have not been seeing some of the early medicines supply warning signals at a national level – such as a rising number of concession prices – and there currently appears to be no issue with supply of medicines into the country.
The logistics delays have not affected patients’ access to medicines, but they have an impact on pharmacy contractors, adding stress, workload and of course making some patient interactions more difficult. They will also add to the time and effort that contractors have to put into running their businesses, and it will be worrying for all those businesses who rely on fuel for instance to deliver medicines or for work done outside the pharmacy.
We are continuing to work closely with DHSC and everyone across the supply chain to keep a close watch on the situation, including hosting ad hoc meetings on supply chain resilience with representatives from across the sector and beyond as needed.
We will also continue to closely monitor the impact of fuel supplies on medicines deliveries and on pharmacy businesses more broadly.
PSNC Director Legal, Gordon Hockey said:
“Pharmacies are working hard to ensure patients have access to the medicines they need and we have had reassurance today that the Government will consider whether further steps are necessary to support the medicines supply chain if needed.
The continued patient access to medicines is testament to the robustness of the medicines supply chain, including the work being done by community pharmacies to source medicines and work with local GPs to resolve any issues quickly.
Contractors should continue to report any issues to us via our shortages reporting form, and we will look to HM Government to ensure the continued integrity of the medicines supply chain and healthcare services, including seeking further support for contractors and supply chain interventions should those be needed.”