Over 40 MPs and Peers have rallied behind an open letter urging the Government to protect the production of medical device, equipment and healthcare products in the UK, or else risk essential items being removed from supply.
The letter, co-ordinated by the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) and signed by parliamentarians across the political divide, warns that health and social care businesses are facing unprecedented operational and regulatory pressures – a result of the pandemic, rampant inflation and the post-Brexit regulatory transition.
The signees warn that without greater support and regulatory certainty, these pressures will result in medical devices withdrawn from supply and investment being moved out of the UK, with an impact on the quality of care received by patients and jobs and investment leaving Britain to Europe.
The letter calls for four key steps from Government to protect healthcare supply chains, including a review of NHS supply chain frameworks and a formal mechanism to address the relationship between prices and patient care-quality needs.
David Stockdale, chief executive of the British Healthcare Trades Association, said: “Anything from a walking stick to a defibrillator, continence pad or hearing aid, can provide the means for patients to live happier, more independent lifestyles. In many cases, these tools and technologies are the first line of defence to save lives and prevent severe health issues. Yet healthcare manufacturers and suppliers are now facing the most difficult operating environment in recent history – one unsuitable for the long-term production of devices, equipment, and mobility aids that patients desperately need. We’re pleased so many parliamentarians understand the urgency of these issues and hope ministers will take immediate action.”
The intervention follows a recent survey of BHTA members finding that 41% of healthcare manufacturers and suppliers are considering reducing the stock they produce or distribute, limiting the supplies of devices and equipment in the UK. A further 84% of healthcare manufacturers felt that the Government did not fully understand the operational pressures they are facing.
Grahame Morris MP, Labour MP for Easington said: “I recently met with representatives of medical device and equipment manufacturers in Parliament, and I appreciate they are a vital yet often overlooked part of our health and social care system. They play a crucial role in ensuring UK patients receive the highest standards of care possible. It’s incredibly worrying to see the pressures suppliers are facing and the apparent lack of action from the Government to protect supply chains in response. I urge Ministers to meet with those impacted and explore how regulators, businesses and the NHS can work together to safeguard the future of British healthcare manufacturing to ensure patients can access the best care available.”