UK Government tasks European logistics giant with ensuring fast medicine deliveries

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Logistics giant Kuehne+Nagel International, founded in Germany and now headquartered in Switzerland, has netted a contract with the UK Government to provide an International Express Freight Service for the fast delivery of medicines into the UK.

UK Government tasks European logistics giant with ensuring fast medicine deliveries
Photo: Patsim, CC BY-SA 3.0, attraverso Wikimedia Commons

The well known logistics company, chaired by German billionaire Klaus-Michael Kühne, has been tasked with delivering “medicines and medical goods which are at risk of shortage” into the UK “within days”.

In a statement, the UK Government said the International Express Freight Service is “designed to deliver products to the UK rapidly when a supplier’s own logistical arrangements are disrupted, to ensure patients can continue to access the treatments they need.”

This, says the government, will help support supply chain resilience in the UK and mitigate potential shortages.

The statement adds that the service will aim to collect and deliver small parcels within 24 – 48 hours and pallets or shipments within 2-4 working days, with specialised products with a controlled or regulated handling requirement fast-tracked within 24 hours.

Moreover, the government states that the International Express Freight Service is a “contingency measure” to provide authorised suppliers with an emergency capability to help maintain the uninterrupted supply of medicines and medical products where there is an urgent need or where a supplier’s own logistic arrangements are disrupted.

Commenting on the deal, Stuart Innes, Air Logistics Director for UK for Kuehne+Nagel International, said:

“Kuehne+Nagel are committed to ensuring the UK public continue to receive the treatment they need, when they need it most. We are immensely proud to be providing the logistical support behind the International Express Freight Service for the Department of Health and Social Care, applying our expertise, capabilities and robust global network to transport critical medical supplies.”

The announcement of the new service comes amid continued supply chain problems in the UK caused by global supply chain issues, a shortage of drivers and the new trading arrangements with the EU.

Just days ago, project44, one of the leading supply chain visibility companies, said a “Brexit backlog” was present at the Port of Felixstowe, which is currently Europe’s most disrupted port. Britain’s driver shortage means it has been difficult to get containers moved around smoothly, and now there are even reports of 1,000 containers being stored temporarily at a former RAF base.

To try and alleviate the disruption, the UK Government has made changes to streamline HGV driver testing, provided funding for training, allocated 5,000 temporary visas for lorry drivers, and even allowed European hauliers to conduct unlimited cabotage trips within a two week period.

On top of that, customs and veterinary checks on goods coming from the EU into Britain have been put back to January after already being postponed by 6 months. Given that further disruption is expected as a result of these checks, there will inevitably be speculation that the government’s International Express Freight Service is designed to limit the extent to which those disruptions can impact the supply of medicine.

The UK Government’s press release did not reveal the value of the contract. Therefore it isn’t known how much the German-owned logistics giant stands to profit from the arrangement.

Photo: Patsim, CC BY-SA 3.0, attraverso Wikimedia Commons

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