Medical Equipment: Imports

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 28th April 2020.

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Photo of Adam Holloway Adam Holloway Conservative, Gravesham

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will allocate funding to reimburse medical companies that import medical equipment necessary for the treatment by the NHS of patients with covid-19 for the increased costs of shipping that equipment from North America, Europe and Asia to the UK to meet the needs of the NHS.

Photo of Adam Holloway Adam Holloway Conservative, Gravesham

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if the Government will (a) reimburse companies' increased air freight costs and (b) vary NHS (i) tenders and (ii) framework to cover the uplift in transport costs for products supplied to the NHS for the treatment of covid-19 patients.

Photo of Adam Holloway Adam Holloway Conservative, Gravesham

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he has taken steps to reduce the increase in fees charged by airfreight carriers to medical companies that supply equipment for the NHS to treat covid-19 patients.

Photo of Adam Holloway Adam Holloway Conservative, Gravesham

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he has made an assessment of the effect of increased air freight fees on the operation of medical companies importing goods at fixed product prices.

Photo of Adam Holloway Adam Holloway Conservative, Gravesham

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has had discussions with the Department for Transport on increasing the number of air freight transport routes in operation to minimise delays to the import of medical supplies.

Photo of Adam Holloway Adam Holloway Conservative, Gravesham

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether the Government is working with air freight companies to prioritise the supply of medical equipment for the treatment of covid-19 patients at an appropriate cost.

Photo of Edward Argar Edward Argar Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

Holding answer received on 27 April 2020

The Government has announced a range of measures to assist industry and companies are able to draw on this unprecedented package of economic measures. These measures have been designed to ensure that companies of any size, including airports, airlines and the wider supply chain, receive the help they need to get through this difficult time.

The Government recognises that air freight plays an important role in supply chains and the importance that essential goods can continue to be brought into and out of the United Kingdom without disruption. COVID-19 presents unique risks to the movement of goods.

Because of this, the Department for Transport is working with different sectors to help ensure that essential goods can continue to be transported into the UK. This includes working closely with the aviation sector to support it to ensure there is sufficient capacity to protect global travel routes, continue freight and maintain vital connectivity.

The Department of Health and Social Care is working closely with the Department for Transport, other Government Departments and industry to feed into this ongoing work as well as monitor the impact of COVID-19 on medical supply chains and manage identified risks. For example, the Department of Health and Social Care has mobilised an Express Freight Service to support the continuity of supply of medicines and medical products and ensure the continued prioritisation of critical products.

This is complemented by the current work of the Civil Aviation Authority and the Competition and Markets Authority. The Civil Aviation Authority oversees and regulates all aspects of civil aviation in the United Kingdom and is engaging airlines and airports to provide flexibility within the regulatory framework to help manage and mitigate COVID-19 impacts where appropriate. The Competition and Markets Authority, which has launched a COVID-19 pandemic taskforce to identify harmful pricing practices is advising the Government on the means of ensuring markets operate as well as possible.

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