Contingency plans have been triggered to ensure NHS trusts are stocked up with enough examination gloves for their staff, following problems with a key supplier based in Europe.
Officials at the Department of Health and Social Care have, however, insisted that the glove supply issues are not related to the ongoing uncertainty over Brexit.
“We are taking comprehensive action to ensure the NHS has continued access to products”
They said demand from the NHS for gloves from Austria-based Semperit had been “significantly higher than planned”, and had resulted in the stock being used at a “much greater rate than forecast”.
At the same time, Semperit was in the process of moving some of its manufacturing bases, which was ”temporarily limiting production and storage capacity”, they added.
The circumstances meant the body NHS Supply Chain had experienced delays receiving stock from the firm, which is one of three suppliers of nitrile exam gloves to the health service, according to DSHC leaders in Health Service Journal.
However, they added that contingency measures were in place for such shortages and that the other two suppliers had “adequate stocks” to “satisfy demand until Semperit gloves are in stock”.
The department officials claimed that there had been “no overall disruption” in the supplying of gloves to trusts as a result of the issues.
In a statement to Nursing Times, the DHSC said: “We have not seen any evidence of current supply issues for nitrile exam gloves linked to EU exit preparations.
“We are taking comprehensive action to ensure the NHS has continued access to products needed to deliver safe, effective care, and we have well-established processes to manage and mitigate the small number of supply problems that may arise at any one time,” it added.
A spokeswoman for Semperit said it continued to fulfil NHS orders “under the existing framework contract”.
She added: “Semperit remains a stable glove supply partner to the NHS.”
NHS Supply Chain distributes around 32 million individual gloves on a weekly basis to trusts.