Business Continuity Plan (BCP)

NHS Supply Chain Service Resilience

The NHS needs to plan for and respond to, a wide range of incidents and emergencies that could affect health or patient care. Service resilience is therefore essential for the NHS to ensure it can effectively manage risk and 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 and Social Care (DHSC), 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. This programme of work is referred to as emergency preparedness, resilience and response (EPRR).

Does NHS Supply Chain have a business continuity policy?

Yes. As the management function of the NHS Supply Chain, Supply Chain Coordination Ltd.’s business continuity policy defines the framework for the SCCL Business Continuity Management System (BCMS) and business continuity objectives, which assist in protecting our reputation, our brand, our strategy and, more importantly, our customers’ health services. It applies to all SCCL activities, including the management of our service providers.

See our Downloads ▼ section to download a copy of our Business Continuity Policy and Customer Information Sheet.

The Policy applies to all activities carried out, or managed by SCCL:

  • Procurement services for medical devices and clinical consumables.
  • Logistics services for delivery of products to NHS providers.
  • IT services to provide systems platforms that support the operations of NHS Supply Chain.
  • Transaction processing services to ensure that suppliers are paid, customers receive and pay their invoices and accurate financial/statutory accounting is performed in a timely manner.
  • Customer engagement services that assist our customers in making best value choices of products for use in the provision of health services.
  • Clinical and product assurance services to give our customers confidence that the products they are using are good quality and clinically suitable for their intended use.
  • Performance management to ensure that the above services are all delivered efficiently and effectively in a coordinated way.

Does NHS Supply Chain have business continuity plans?

Yes. As the management function of the NHS Supply Chain, Supply Chain Coordination Ltd operates Crisis Management Planning (CMP), Business Continuity Planning (BCP) and has both an Incident Management Plan (IMP) and a Corporate Business Continuity Plan (BCP) applicable to all NHS Supply Chain sites supported by site specific Business Continuity Plans and a Corporate Pandemic Plan.

The primary objective of the business continuity management system (BCMS) is the continued provision of critical services to NHS trusts. These plans contain contingencies for various scenarios including major incidents and H1N1 swine flu.

See our Downloads ▼ section to download a copy of our Business Continuity Policy and Customer Information Sheet.

What key areas do the plans cover?

Our plans ensure resilience within the following areas:

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

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

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

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 Maximum Tolerable Outage (MTO).

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 the DHSC.

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 Services Managers, Account Managers or Customer Services Advisors) and through our corporate and customer communications teams. Information will be communicated to you either in person or via telephone, email 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 eDirect 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 following telephone numbers:

North West England


  • 03000 136 202

North East England


  • 03000 136 201

North Midlands


  • 03000 136 203

East of England

Suffolk Park

  • 03000 136 207

Central England


  • 03000 136 204

Southern England


  • 03000 136 206

South West England


  • 03000 136 205

What do our emergency contingency plans cover?

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

  1. Civil incident – terrorist: all DHSC and NHS goes on alert status.
  2. Major incidents within trusts area e.g. major transport accident, 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 Coordinator.
  • Please check that we have current contact details for your appointed Emergency Planning Coordinator. It is this person that we will use as key contact in case of a major emergency.
  • Emergency Planning Coordinator contact can be updated by emailing
  • Alert us to your plans for emergency stock build. We can help you with the coordination 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.