New data from the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) has today revealed a hidden crisis facing organisations providing health and social care products to hospitals and patients in the community, with 82% of businesses fearing that the quality of care received by patients is at risk due to the current economic crisis.
In a survey of healthcare businesses providing medical devices, mobility aids, prosthetics, stoma, and continence products across the NHS supply chain, via prescription and direct to end users, the trade body also found that:
• 41% will consider reducing the amount of stock they produce or distribute due to ongoing operational pressures.
• 36% will consider cutting employees from their businesses.
• 29% will focus on other international markets, causing a drain of healthcare jobs and investment from the UK to Europe.
• 84% feel that the challenges they face are not well understood by the UK Government
• Over 90% would like to see financial support, greater regulatory certainty and reform of red tape and regulations to ease operating pressures for healthcare businesses.
The BHTA warn that firms are being hit with unprecedented financial challenges following the pandemic, global supply chain delays and uncertainty in the post-Brexit regulatory transition, which could mean that entire lines of products will disappear from the UK market. Higher manufacturing and distribution costs were cited as the largest concerns for businesses, followed by workforce, skills and wage inflation and supply chain delays.
The BHTA also warn that the planned switch to new UKCA labelling requirements for medical devices, a move decried for unnecessary cost and burden by small and medium businesses, presents a further cliff-edge for the health and social care industry.
David Stockdale, Chief Executive of the British Healthcare Trades Association, says:
“These findings are incredibly worrying but unfortunately not surprising for those in healthcare businesses. For too long, we have urged the Government to listen to the very real concerns of those in our sector and are appalled at the lack of understanding and urgency shown by ministers to seek a solution to these pressures, pressures with a direct impact on the quality of care received by UK patients.
”Without a fast resolution, businesses will be forced to discontinue products and services, investment confidence will be decimated, and we will lose jobs and goods to international markets with more stable and business-friendly regulatory environments. There has never been a more important time for the Government to step in and support British manufacturers as they strive to provide the very best products and support for UK patients to live healthier, happier, and more independent lives.”