The NHS has banned Cadbury chocolate bars from being sold in its cafes and vending machines in a dispute over price hikes.
NHS Supply Chain, which supplies over 80 NHS trusts with confectionary, told clients it had delisted all Cadbury products after American owners Mondelez International put up prices.
“Mondelez had requested a price increase and as we are not prepared to accept price increases on behalf of our customers, the products are now being delisted with immediate effect,” it said.
“All products in the Cadbury range from this supplier will be unavailable to order with immediate effect. Alternative chocolate confectionery is available to order through our online catalogue.”
The issue has been developing for at least six weeks after NHS Supply Chain published its first notice about the disruption in January. At the time it described the problem as a “temporary supply issue”.
The NHS makes a small profit from each bar sold, which is then reinvested in services or used to balance the books. If the manufacturer’s price goes up, it must either charge people more or take a smaller cut.
NHS Supply Chain has already reduced the number of product lines it offers from 600,000 to 315,000 in an attempt to lower costs and improve efficiency, according the NHS.
Lindsay Hoyle, Labour MP and deputy speaker, said the incident was a case of a multi-billion pound international company “holding the NHS to ransom and demanding a price increase”.
“Surely, a company of this magnitude and wealth ought to be saying, ‘We will reduce our prices to you, not increase them,’ to ease some of the burden of the health service’s funding crisis.”
NHS Supply Chain’s decision affects most hospitals, although some buy from Mondelez independently. Franchise shops on hospital premises, including WH Smith, are unaffected.
A Mondelez International spokesperson said it would not comment on customer communications or confidential customer conversations.
In 2015, WH Smith had to cut prices in hospitals after it was accused of exploiting patients and their families by charging them more in its hospital branches than on the high street.
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