Customer Services

Information, help, support and guidance

Business Continuity Plan (BCP)

NHS Supply Chain Service Resilience

Service resilience is essential for the NHS to ensure it can effectively manage risk and ensure continuity of quality patient care in the event of unusual incidents on local, regional, national or global scales.

As a trusted partner of the Department of Health (DH), NHS Supply Chain provides the National NHS Emergency Response Services to support resilience and safety across the English health service.  This covers crisis management, business continuity and health pandemics. 

Does NHS Supply Chain have business continuity plans?

NHS Supply Chain has adopted the DHL model of Crisis Management Planning (CMP) and Business Continuity Planning (BCP) and has both an Incident Management Plan (IMP) and a Corporate Business Continuity Plan (BCP) applicable to all sites supported by Site specific Business Continuity Plans and a Corporate Pandemic Plan.

The primary objective of NHS Supply Chain's business continuity management is the continued provision of service to NHS trusts. These plans contain contingencies for various scenarios including major incidents and H1N1 swine flu.


What key areas do the plans cover?

Our plans ensure resilience within the following areas:

  • Supply chain
  • Storage and distribution
  • I.T. systems
  • Employee welfare
  • Key personnel.

More specifically, as well as health pandemics our business contingencies cover events such as:

  • Loss of utilities
  • Loss of one or more distribution centres
  • Industrial action; including suppliers and emergency services
  • Adverse weather affecting service delivery
  • Fuel shortages
  • Terrorist activity
  • I.T. failure
  • Supplier failure.


Does NHS Supply Chain work directly for the Department of Health (DH)?

NHS Supply Chain operates as part of DHL Supply Chain Limited and is an agent of the NHS Business Services Authority which is a special health authority of the National Health Service (NHS) in England and Wales.  NHS Supply Chain is overseen by the Supply Chain Division of the NHSBSA.

In terms of DH liaison it follows the route: DH > NHSBSA (The Principal) > Supply Chain Division > NHS Supply Chain (The Agent).


How would a serious incident affect the service to NHS organisations?

Throughout any incident the primary focus is upon both the implementation of business contingency arrangements in order to maintain supplies to the NHS and to return NHS Supply Chain to normal operations within the minimum time

In the event of a particularly serious incident then the most senior levels of command will be initiated.  This command level will make strategic decisions regarding management of the incident, scope of service provision, and the deployment of resources, as well as being responsible for liaising with other agencies, including NHSBSA and the DH.

How will you keep us informed of changes or issues regarding any impacts?

We will keep you informed via both your customer facing representatives (customer service manager, account manager or customer service advisor) and through our corporate and customer communications teams. Information will be communicated to you either in person or via telephone, e-mail or on our website.

Does NHS Supply Chain have an emergency or out of hours (OOH) contact telephone number?

NHS Supply Chain already has a proven emergency service that is available to NHS trusts 365 days per year, 24 hours per day and guarantees a delivery of stocked product within five hours of any emergency request being received.  For products that are not stocked within our distribution centre network such as Blue Diamond or e-Direct products then we would endeavour to obtain stock for delivery within the shortest time possible. 

If the emergency occurs within working hours (Monday – Friday) 8am to 5pm then you simply contact your normal customer service representative. For emergencies that occur outside of these hours, please contact your supplying distribution centre using the telephone numbers below:

North Midlands 01623 587173
South Midlands 01623 587183
North East England 01924 328757
South West England 01623 587187
Southern Enlgand 01622 402669
North West England 01928 858531
East of England 01622 402662

What do our emergency contingency plans cover?

Emergency requests fall into a number of criteria and are ranked:

  1. Civil incident – terrorist: all DH and NHS goes on alert status
  2. Major incidents within trusts area eg train derailment, terrorist activity, severe flooding
  3. Major incident within trust e.g. fire, flood, infection outbreak etc
  4. Emergency admissions/patient care e.g. new patient transfer, emergency admittance etc
  5. Trust has run out of or forgotten to order product now urgently needed.

In the event of incidents one to three and within normal working hours, NHS Supply Chain would provide a dedicated point of contact who would work with the key point of contact for your trust and would remain on alert until your trust notified otherwise, with any requests then having priority on all of our distribution centres. Products would be supplied via emergency transport, which may involve police escort. Incidents four and five are classed as ‘normal business’.

What can I do to support service continuity for my organisation?

Planning and communication is key.

  • Your Business Continuity Plan should include the name and contact details of your Emergency Planning Co-ordinator
  • Please check that we have current contact details for your appointed Emergency Planning Co-ordinator. It is this person that we will use as key contact in case of a major emergency.
  • Emergency Planning Co-ordinator contact can be updated by emailing
  • Alert us to your plans for emergency stock build. We can help you with the co-ordination of ordering and delivery arrangements and ensure that we have bulk product available without impact to other customers
  • Plan in advance. Consider what products you would need in the event of an incident; ideally keep a list, with quantities and product codes. Identify and nominate a requisition point that you will use for ordering and the delivery location
  • Prepare in advance. Monitor the local/national situation including Government threat alerts. Review your product and supply situation and contact us as soon as possible. Advance warning will help us prepare to meet your emergency needs
  • Regularly review your emergency product list, and the expiry date of products in your continuity stock, moving products with an approaching expiry date into general use and replacing with new.

Real examples of NHS Supply Chain emergency and continuity plans in action

When fire broke out at the Chelsea site in 2008, NHS Supply Chain immediately engaged with the hospital's supplies team to offer support and services. Although the site returned to normal within 24 hours, NHS Supply Chain placed its Maidstone distribution centre on stand-by for deliveries throughout the night and supported increased demands at other hospitals in the area.

Royal Marsden Hospital, London

During the 2007 floods in Tewksbury and Yorkshire, NHS Supply Chain ensured uninterrupted availability of essential and special resources at hospitals and temporary shelters throughout both regions. It found alternate routes around inaccessible or gridlocked areas, organised emergency deliveries and arranged police escorts to maintain patient care and support thousands of displaced people.

Tewksbury and Yorkshire Hospitals

The 2005 London Bombings created major challenges for hospitals in the area and NHS Supply Chain was at the forefront of the response: "On the day in question, obviously we went into overdrive. The Royal London Inventory management team effectively stopped all other work to assist with the major incident. We were extremely well supported by all at the Maidstone DC, who responded to our requests without question. Our emergency orders were delivered into the hospital within four hours, under police escort, which the driver seemed to enjoy! Our thanks go out to the team for their continuing support and assistance".

Neil Cadywood, Materials Co-ordinator, Royal London Hospital

"This morning we had an urgent requirement for our intensive care unit. We range NHS Supply Chain and to our delight the delivery arrived one hour later. This was an exceptionally quick service by anyone's standard. Thank you for this excellent customer service".

Steve Begley, Supplies Manager, Royal Liverpool Children's NHS Trust, Alder Hey

Customer Feedback

Our commitment to you

We intend to provide products and services in line with customer needs. We are committed to providing a high standard of service to every customer, every time.

Have we done a good job?

We do recognise that occasionally we may not live up to your expectations. So, if you would like to register a complaint or can suggest a way in which we could have served you better, please let us know. Your comments at such times are important to us. Not only do they allow us the opportunity to put things right for you, they also enhance and improve our services for everyone who uses them.

How to contact us

You can contact us by telephone, e-mail, letter or fax.

In the first instance it is usually better to contact your local customer service advisor by telephone to discuss your complaint. They will do their best to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.

Should further investigation or information be required then they will work with you to obtain all the relevant information required to progress your complaint.

What you will need to provide

To help us to investigate and resolve your complaint in the shortest time possible, it would be helpful if you could provide us with the following information wherever appropriate:

  • Your requisition point
  • Your requisition number
  • Any relevant or related call reference log numbers
  • A clear description of your issue or complaint
  • Details of what you would like us to do to put it right
  • Your contact details.

Handling complaints

When dealing with your complaint we will:

  • Acknowledge and log your complaint
  • Deal with it promptly 
  • Seek to match our response to your needs and to your satisfaction
  • Keep you informed at all times.

Regional Customer Service Manager Contact Details:

AreaContact nameTelephone
North Christopher Davidson 01928 858 537  
Central and South West Sarah Young  01623 587152
South and East Sarah Smyth 01622 402662

If you are still not happy:

We aim to resolve all complaints as quickly as possible and to the complete satisfaction of our customers. 

If you are not happy with the outcome of our initial response, with the time we took to respond, with the way we kept you informed, or with the manner in which you were dealt with you can write to the Head of Customer Support Services who will investigate your complaint and reply within five working days. 

Contact by letter:

Helen Timpson
Head of Customer Support Services
NHS Supply Chain
COMO House
Lake View Drive
Sherwood Business Park
NG15 0ED

Contact by email:

Delivery Information

NHS Supply Chain prides itself on providing a rapid and efficient delivery service to our customers. We aim to deliver all standard requisitions within 48-hours of receipt of your order, subject to your preferred delivery days.

To guarantee that we are able to provide you with this service, please ensure that you input all orders by 4:15pm two days prior to your preferred delivery date, i.e. if your preferred delivery day is Wednesday, you will need to submit your order by 4:15pm on the preceding Monday.

Submitting your order as early as possible will ensure that we can meet your requirements.

Choosing a delivery site

We deliver to a wide variety of healthcare locations from hospitals to small GP clinics and dental surgeries. In order to provide you with the most efficient delivery service, an assessment of your delivery location may be necessary. If this is required for your location, we will notify you and make a suitable appointment to carry out this survey with you.

Your Regional Customer Service Manager will be able to offer you guidance and support on setting up a new delivery location. If for any reason we do not think that your chosen delivery site is suitable, your Regional Customer Service Manager will discuss this with you and help to identify an alternative.

We also help you to manage your delivery profile by periodically deactivating any unused or redundant delivery locations. To reactivate these simply contact your Customer Service Team.


Once a delivery site has been agreed, NHS Supply Chain will agree a fixed delivery day on which you will receive your order. This will be known as your preferred delivery day.

Please note that defendant on the overall volume or nature of your requirements; you may be allocated more than one preferred delivery day per week. If this is the case you will be notified upon placing your order.

Where appropriate you will be allocated a specific delivery time for each delivery location. If this is the case, our drivers will aim to deliver within 30 minutes of the agreed delivery time. For your convenience, the delivery time can be allocated either inside or outside of normal working hours. Please contact your Regional Customer Service Manager for more details.

The day of delivery

To assist our drivers on the day, customers are required to provide staff to accept deliveries at the delivery location. Deliveries will be off-loaded at the agreed points of delivery by way of a tail lift service. Please note that our delivery service does not include the manual transportation of goods to other areas within your site. All deliveries will be accompanied by a delivery note.

All customer orders are packed in plastic bags, cardboard boxes or tote boxes and delivered on NHS Supply Chain roll cages for ease of transportation around your site.

Subject to your order, some roll cages may contain goods that may need to be delivered to more than one requisition point at your site. In this case, a label will be attached to the roll cage clearly detailing all of the requisition points contained within it.

If required, deliveries can be made on pallets in strict agreement with NHS Supply Chain.

Customers are reminded that our delivery service is a ‘tail-lift’ only service to an agreed delivery point., and does not include the manual transportation of goods to other areas within your site.

How can I be sure that my delivery is correct

Whilst we endeavour to ensure that deliveries are accurate, errors do occur which is why we ask customers to check their deliveries to ensure they are correct. Along with your delivery, you should receive:

Delivery documentation - This needs to be signed and the time of delivery recorded, along with any discrepancies in the number of containers received

Priced advice note (packed with each individual requisition) - This document will contain details of the products that have been selected and dispatched, together with the prices charged. It is your responsibility to check your delivery for quantity and quality in accordance with these two documents.

What should I do if my order is incorrect?

If you do identify a delivery error, please report it to customer services within the following timescales:

Error relating to the number of containers delivered - Within 24 hours of delivery

Order discrepancies - At the earliest opportunity and within a maximum of three working days.

Where the delivery is made outside of normal working hours, the delivery must be checked at the earliest opportunity with any errors relating to container quantities or quality being reported immediately to customer services.

When reporting an error to our customer service team, you will be asked to provide the following information:

Details of the requisition point

The requisition number

The relevant product codes and quantities.

Our team will then issue you with a call log number. If your order was incomplete, missing items will be sent on the next available delivery day with a credit raised for the original items, pending the outcome of our investigations.

Return of tote boxes and roll cages

As these items remain the property of NHS Supply Chain, all roll cages and tote boxes should be made available for collection from your delivery location within reasonable time after delivery. Container recycling enables us to reduce costs and ensure best environmental practice, offering long-term benefits to you. Roll cages and tote boxes are to be used for the transportation of NHS Supply Chain goods only.

Please see Roll Cage and Tote Box section for more information.

Emergency deliveries

We recognise that occasionally situations occur when you may need clinical products in a hurry. At NHS Supply Chain, we aim to provide emergency deliveries wherever possible.

In the event of a clinical emergency, we offer a responsive and reliable service for all standard products listed in our catalogue. These orders will be processed and delivered within a maximum of five hours of being received. We also cater for any urgent demands for products available via our Blue Diamond route as well as e-Direct products. These orders will be dealt with on an individual basis with the aim of supplying within 24 hours of your request. This service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at no additional cost to you.

Visit the Emergency Response support section for further information.

Special Picks

In the event that you require a product urgently for the same or next day delivery, a special pick can be arranged. As special picks are more costly to process and deliver, these should be kept to a minimum. In the event that a request is made without a valid reason, an additional charge may be levied which may include courier costs. Please contact your customer service team at the earliest opportunity with a reason for the request, who will inform you if your request can be accommodated.

Unscheduled deliveries

These are 48-hour deliveries requested outside of your normal preferred delivery date. These are more costly to process and deliver, therefore you should contact your customer service team in the first instance stating a reason for your request. You may be charged for the delivery dependent upon the route.

Out of Hours and Emergency Deliveries

Out of hours and emergency delivery service - there when you need it

NHS Supply Chain’s out of hours and emergency service means that we will always be there when you need us - 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Under our emergency service arrangements, we guarantee that we will respond to any major incident or unforeseen circumstance efficiently and rapidly, getting a new or replacement product to you as soon as we possibly can.

One phone call to our teams and we will do everything we can to support and protect continuity of your service to your patients. Our service operates in support of your own trust’s emergency response.

Product Availability

Our online catalogue is updated daily, enabling you to access the latest product information when browsing or placing your order, including details on:

  • Suspended products - Including why the product has been temporarily suspended, direct and indirect alternatives and the date we hope to have it available from again
  • Latest products - Keeps you informed of the latest products added to the catalogue. You can search by NSV codes or the date they were added
  • Product amendments - Enables you to find out about changes to a product e.g. price, pack size, supply route or available while stocks last (AWSL). Search against a specific NSV code or enter a date range to find the information you need.

You also have the option to download the information into Microsoft Excel.

Direct and indirect alternatives

Direct alternatives - These are substitute products that are 'like for like', having been agreed by our Purchasing team in conjunction with a clinician. However should you feel that the alternative offered to you is unsuitable, please contact customer services at the earliest opportunity.

Indirect alternatives - This is the closest product from our range that we can offer in terms of suitability but there may be differences. Please note that an indirect alternative will not be offered automatically but instead needs to be chosen by you once you have decided it is an acceptable replacement.

Rationed items

Due to issues beyond our control, some products may become short of supply resulting in rationing across the customer base to enable equal distribution across the entire NHS. In the short term this will result in reduced quantities being delivered to customers.

What happens if a product becomes unavailable after I have placed my order?
It is our aim to fulfil your order requirements at all times. However, there may be occasions when the supply chain may not run as smoothly as we may like. If for any reason we are unable to fully satisfy your requisition, we will advise you of this the day before your delivery is due via an unsatisfied lines report.

This report is available via our online ordering and catalogue system, or can be e-mailed direct to an end user(s) for an entire trust or for an individual ward/department, detailing all unavailable items and suggested alternative products, together with expected stock availability dates. This report allows you to make alternative arrangements with NHS Supply Chain.

Out of stock items

We aim to maintain a minimum 98% service level on stocked products but due to issues beyond our control we may occasionally run out of stock on some items. In the event of a particular item being unavailable you may be offered either a direct or indirect product alternative.

Unsatisfied lines report
It is our aim to fulfill your order requirements at all times. However, there may be occasions when the supply chain may not run as smoothly as we may like it to. We produce a report that can provide you with information regarding your order 24 hours prior to its delivery. This report is available in two ways and will show you what product will not be arriving with your delivery. Part of the report will show you if an alternative product is available.

The report can be accessed through our online ordering system – Solo. When you log into online ordering in ‘system alerts and messages’ section you will see if there are any unsatisfied lines for your trust. By clicking the link you can see the details and any alternative products available.

Alternatively you can receive the unsatisfied line report by email, for the whole trust or it can be requisition point specific. To receive these emails please contact your Customer Service Team with the email address of the people you would like to receive the information. The email will be sent the day before your delivery is due for example order placed on Monday for Wednesday delivery, the email will arrive on Tuesday morning.

Pricing and Invoicing

Our pricing policy

  • Each product will have a minimum of one price band relating to the quantities in which the product is issued
  • Band one will be the price for an item purchased in multiples of its single unit of issue
  • Band two and above will be the price for an item purchased in multiples of its outer pack quantity.


NHS Supply Chain’s catalogue prices are inclusive of standard rate VAT where applicable. This means that the price shown in the catalogue is the price that you pay.


All goods delivered by NHS Supply Chain are invoiced to you weekly. Additionally, we will send a customised, electronic file transfer of all transaction data direct to your own financial ledgers, enabling you to undertake your own budgetary monitoring and control.



Our full e-Billing service allows you not only to receive your invoices electronically but also has additional benefits including:

  • Information that can be downloaded into your existing Microsoft Excel package in a user friendly format
  • A clearly presented ‘transaction file’ being sent directly to your trust's own system at the end of each week
  • By paying NHS Supply Chain electronically, you not only reduce your own internal transaction costs, but you also eliminate invoice duplication.

NHS Supply Chain is more than happy to accept product returns providing they are in line with our returns policy below. Our customer service team will then help you make the necessary arrangements.

Our returns policy

We are more than happy to accept product returns from you, providing they are:

  • Reported in time - You will need to report any discrepancies to customer services at the earliest opportunity within three days of the delivery, unless agreed otherwise. 
  • Returned within time - Upon agreement of a return, NHS Supply Chain will provide you with the latest acceptable collection and return date. To ensure that we are able to action your return, we must receive your goods by this date. 
  • Fit for re-sale - Unless the items were found to be damaged on arrival at your delivery point, returned goods must be in a condition fit for re-sale.
  • Licensed Medicinal Products (LMP) – NHS Supply Chain cannot accept returns for re-sale of products classed as Licensed Medicinal Products due to the restrictions placed on us by the MHRA and EU regulations for the Wholesale Distribution of Medicines for Human Use.
  • Non Returnable Products – We have a number of products which are non returnable. These include some consumable items, including paper and some high value products. Your customer service advisor will advise you if a product is not returnable and will help you to redistribute within your trust.
  • Over £10 in value - To ensure a cost effective service in relation to the collection, processing and restocking of returned items, and to ensure that unnecessary costs are not incurred by the greater NHS, a minimum order value of £10 per product line for return requests is in place. Orders below this value cannot be returned and will not be credited in the event of a customer order error.

Providing all of the above criteria have been satisfied, our customer service team will then:

  • Raise a return on the system (an “uplift”) and provide you with an uplift number, along with a date and time when the items will be collected. We will e-mail you a copy of the ‘returns’ paperwork for you to enclose with the items to be returned to us. Please ensure that the items for return are made available to the delivery driver at this time, and that you retain one copy of the signed paperwork as proof of collection
  • Provide you with a call log number for your reference
  • Once the items have been received by us, a credit will be raised for the value of the goods. N.B. All eDirect products need to be returned directly to the supplier, and not NHS Supply Chain. Your customer service team will be happy to assist you when dealing with eDirect product returns.

Please be aware that from time to time eDirect suppliers may levy a charge for the return of an item. Any additional costs that would be incurred will be discussed and advised prior to collection being made.


Product recalls

From time to time, it may be necessary for us to recall products as directed by either the supplier or the Medical Devices Agency (MDA). On such occasions, information regarding the recall will be emailed to your nominated supplies department to cascade and manage within your organisation. Our customer service team will co-ordinate all activities relating to the return, replacement or crediting of any products that may be recalled.

Whilst suppliers may occasionally choose to manage the recall directly with customers, our customer service team will always be available to assist and support you with any product recalls.

Information on recalls can be located under Important Customer Notices.

Roll Cages

Please see the latest important information - click here.

Supply Route

NHS Supply Chain manages the procurement of more than 600,000 products vital to the everyday running of trusts, hospitals and healthcare organisations. To ensure you receive the products required, we use the following delivery methods:


These products are stocked in our regional distribution centres. We are able to guarantee delivery within a standard 48-hour lead time for all products wherever possible.


e-Direct enables us to offer products we do not currently stock in our warehouses. As each supplier has different cut-off times, we are unable to guarantee delivery within our standard 48-hour lead time. These products are delivered to you by the supplier or a courier.

e-direct products will be invoiced by NHS Supply Chain directly to your finance department. These items will be consolidated into one invoice along with the rest of the items you order.

Blue Diamond

Blue Diamond products are ordered through NHS Supply Chain, but not stocked in our warehouses. They are delivered to us where they are consolidated with the rest of your order and delivered to you.

Blue Diamond products will be delivered on the next available date. As each supplier has different order cut-off times, we are unable to guarantee delivery within our standard 48 hour lead time.


Some of the products are offered on a direct or framework agreement from the supplier. To order these products please contact the supplier directly, quoting the supplier contract reference number. For further information please contact your NHS Supply Chain account manager or your customer service contact.


Are delivery times for Blue Diamond and e-Direct products the same?

As these products are not physically stocked in our warehouses, they may be subject to different delivery lead times to our stocked range of products.

If the lead delivery time varies from our standard 48 hours, this will be identified via our online catalogue or when you are placing an order using our online ordering system. If you are viewing our hard copy catalogue, this information can be found in the far right-hand column next to the relevant products.

 Please check this carefully prior to placing or checking out your order via the Online Catalogue and Ordering System.

How to read your delivery paper work

To be able to handle your phone calls in the quickest and most efficient way it’s important to have key pieces of information to hand. These are all available on your Printed Advice Note (PAN) and will help our Customer Service teams answer your questions


Click here to download a copy of a Printed Advice Note with the important information highlighted. Please ensure you have these details to hand before contacting our teams.



Urgent Service Updates

06/09 10:36Orders for ABX304 (Vitamin Drops) are now delivered by carrier (Polarspeed). For further details contact Customer Services.

More savings
Follow us on Twitter
Sign up to receive updates

Delivering value to the NHS