Due to ‘covid and brexit,’ the medical supply chain is sagging.

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Due to ‘covid and brexit,’ the medical supply chain is sagging.

The impact of Covid and Brexit has been blamed for a growing shortage of medical goods, such as steel for ligature knives and blood test tubes.

Due to a global scarcity of bottles, Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, the NHS trust that administers community blood testing in Liverpool, suspended all non-urgent tests for around two weeks in September.

Although the shortfall has subsided, other aspects of the trust’s operations are beginning to feel the pinch.

Staff are trained in the use of specialty knives to cut patients free from any ligature if they try suicide by hanging at Mersey Care, which oversees most of the area’s mental health services, including secure psychiatric institutions.

Steel shortages around the world have made it difficult to replace these knives.

Several problems have harmed the global supply chain, including a lack of lorry drivers and other specialized workers, port closures due to covid, and rising fuel and shipping prices.

Mersey Care’s board of governors heard this week that difficulties are starting to affect diverse areas.

The trust’s attempts to deal with potential supply concerns were detailed in a Safety Report.

“September saw the residual effects of COVID-19 and possibly Brexit on our supply chain, which were most acute with the blood bottle shortages early in the month, which did start to ease, although we are now potentially seeing supply issues in other areas such as medical devices, fuel, and food costs,” the board was told.

The trust has established a “supply chain task and finish committee” to monitor the situation and report any issues to management.

Internal concerns with how ligature knives were bought and maintained were also exposed by the problem with ligature knives.

“The Trust’s supply of ligature knives was disrupted by a scarcity of steel,” according to the report, “which revealed disparities in process across the three mental health divisions on procurement, training, and maintenance of the knives.”

“The unusual method not only revealed a severe patient safety concern about how blades were being maintained, but it also revealed a gap in controls for dealing with knife acquisition.”

“Summary concludes,” the trust said, adding that it will look into standardizing the buying of a single sort of.

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