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Situation in the Red Sea

27 March 2024

We are continuing to closely monitor the ongoing events in the Red Sea, alongside the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC). No significant supply concerns have developed to date.

Since mid-December there has been significant disruption to global container ship traffic travelling through the Red Sea due to Houthi attacks on commercial vessels. This is causing shipping firms to divert around the Cape of Good Hope, resulting in an increase in lead time of around 10-12 days and increased shipping costs.

We and the DHSC are closely monitoring the situation and the implications for global supply chains.

Whilst this may mean delays of shipments of medical products to the UK, we would expect most delays to be manageable.

Whilst we have heard from suppliers of MedTech products of delays in products arriving in the UK, as of the end of March NHS Supply Chain is managing only a small number of disruptions which have been exacerbated by the Red Sea crisis. These cases are not causing patient safety concerns.

If acute supply shortages do develop we will consider alternate transport modes such as air and rail freight.

(This article has been updated, first published 1 February 2024).