A letter from Stephen Oldfield, Chief Commercial Officer at the Department for Health and Social Care has detailed plans to the Life Sciences industry on arrangements after the end of the Brexit Transition Period. Government has confirmed that at 11pm on the 31st December 2020, the UK will leave the EU Single Market and Customs Union and that there will be no extension to this period (read here). It is essential that the health sector is thoroughly prepared for this event. This includes the gradual resumption of NHS activity after the pandemic, effective management of seasonal pressures on the system and the continuance of safe patient care.
Border controls will be implemented in three stages, leading up to full implementation in July 2021 (read here). Any potential disruption must be mitigated in areas such as medicines; medical devices and clinical consumables; clinical trials supplies; products of human origin (blood and transplant items); vaccines and countermeasures and, nonclinical goods and services (NCGS) in support of health and social care providers. Another priority will be maintaining replenishment rates at necessary levels by securing capacity to reroute freight away from the short straits potential disruption points. To this end, companies should review their own logistics arrangements, and consider plans to avoid the short straits where possible.
DHSC has retained its Express Freight Service arrangements with three specialist logistics providers to support the urgent movement of medicines and medical products to care providers and patients if other measures experience difficulties. The 2019 four-year procurement framework for freight capacity for ‘Category 1’ goods, which includes all health supplies, will remain in place. Information from suppliers will be sought from DHSC on specific needs in terms of border controls, and those who need more support will be identified, for example, companies involved with controlled drugs and cold-chain logistics.
DHSC will liaise with suppliers on their contingency plans for the end of the Transition Period, especially plans addressing the balance between stockholding in the UK, re-routing away from the short straits and readiness for new customs and border arrangements. Industry will be asked, where possible, to achieve a stockpile to a target level of six weeks’ total stock on UK soil. More detail on the Government’s regulatory flexibility proposal to the EU, which would minimise trade barriers and bolsters the resilience of medicines supply chains, will be provided to industry in the coming weeks.
The letter advises that, over the coming months, traders may be contacted by HMRC as part of its campaign to support and assist trader readiness in anticipation of the change to customs and border procedures on 1 January 2021. A webinar on these plans and preparations for after 31st December will be held on the 11th August from 10am to 11am, please register here.
Information published on additional funding available to customs intermediaries and traders that make their own customs declarations can be found here. There is also a dedicated site on this topic that can be found here.