Green MP Caroline Lucas has attacked the awarding of a contract to import medical supplies in a no-deal Brexit to DHL Supply Chain.
Speaking during prime minister’s questions, Lucas said the government was “putting people’s lives at risk through bargain bucket supply deals”, in a reference to the part DHL Supply Chain played in KFC’s chicken shortage last year.
“The government have just decided that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, imports of medical supplies are to be handled by the same company that forced hundreds of restaurants to close because it was incapable of delivering chicken to Kentucky Fried Chicken,” she said.
“It is horrifying that the prime minister’s stubbornness is literally putting people’s lives at risk through bargain-bucket supply deals.
“What guarantee can she give patients who are watching us now, looking at the pantomime and farce in this House, that they will be able to get their vital medicines when they need them in the event of that no-deal Brexit?”
Prime minister Theresa May responded: “The Department of Health and Social Care [DHSC] is taking the steps necessary to ensure that medicines are available.”
Last week a leaked letter showed the DHSC had set up a logistics hub in Belgium for use by medical firms needing to ship goods quickly into the UK in a no-deal Brexit.
KFC ran out of chicken following a contract change that saw DHL take over deliveries in February 2018.
Last year DHL lost a High Court appeal against the awarding of a DHSC logistics contract worth £730m to Unipart.
Meanwhile, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has agreed the UK will join the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) as an independent member should the country leave the EU without a deal.
Doubts had been raised about the UK’s status in the GPA, which allows British businesses to bid for public sector work in member countries and vice versa, because its membership was dependent on being part of the EU.
The GPA is made up of 19 countries, including the US, Canada and Japan, and it involves public contracts worth £1.3tn each year.
A DHSC spokesperson said: “DHL is one of the biggest logistics companies in the world and since 2006 has provided services for a range of products for the NHS.”
A DHL spokesperson said: “DHL Supply Chain has successfully managed the NHS Supply Chain business for the past 12 years, delivering market leading productivity, safety and quality, while consistently surpassing customer targets.
"We have an inherent understanding of the handling required to facilitate this new contract and have partnered with our wider group encompassing Express, Freight and Global Forwarding, who are all market leaders in their respective fields, to ensure successful delivery.”
☛ Want to stay up to date with the news? Sign up to our daily bulletin.