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Situation in the Red Sea

1 February 2024

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 Department for Health and Social Care (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.

We have written to suppliers who use the Red Sea shipping channel with instructions on how to escalate concerns with product availability – no significant concerns have been raised to date.

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

We can also confirm there are currently no issues with the supply of gloves.