A business owner which supplies medical products like swabs, needles, and surgeons’ gloves to smaller organisations tells us why he's fearing for his business in a post-Brexit world.
Hi! My name is Peter and I am 47 years old.
I started my business in 1998; October marks 20 years of business.
I have steered the business through the banking crisis of 2008, and myself and my able team are now getting us through Brexit on a daily basis.
We supply into the healthcare and animal markets, and naturally my customers have been asking me about my Brexit plans. We import a substantial amount of our stock like many other companies. I am a key part of their business, and they are understandably concerned about what is going to happen to their supply chain.
If I am totally honest, the answer is I’m not 100% sure what will happen. This doesn’t just apply to businesses of my size: even the big corporates who supply into the NHS are in the dark. It’s a most concerning situation.
We’ve even been given advice by the government that we should consider employing a customs clerk. How many SMEs can afford someone on the possibility they may be needed? It’s complete madness.
The recommended stockpiling will also affect many companies’ cash flows and could prove fatal for some. Perhaps some medical companies may decide not to stockpile at all - nobody knows and nobody is checking. That’s quite some gamble.
We may also have to pay VAT at the border when we become a third country: another nail in many companies’ cash flows.
Then there is the warehousing of these stockpiled goods to consider. Some medical products have to be stored in MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) inspected warehouses only. It takes months to get new premises authorised; and once the first inspection is done there is usually a long list of things that need to be done to get the licence.
Leave campaigners promised us less red tape. I’m not sensing that at all. The tip of the iceberg is the paperwork we would need to fill out on the products we import on a daily basis. Hideous, costly and time-consuming.
Many medical items also have very short shelf lives. Everything from radioactive isotopes, nutritional feeds, flu vaccines and so much more. There is genuine concern within the medical world on how we will cope.
We also need to consider the increased costs to healthcare that Brexit brings. The NHS will simply pay more for the products they have to buy. A massive proportion of medicines and disposables are purchased in dollars and euros, and with the fall in sterling costs have simply gone up. The NHS loses with Brexit; simple.
No deal brings delays and supply chain nightmares, and the UK has done no preparation. Just imagine the number of customs agents needed to deal with the massive amount of extra work required to keep this country ticking over. The delays at ports, the extra tariffs... Brexit has the potential to be catastrophic; it’s vital we get a Peoples Vote on the final deal.
What we are getting is simply not good enough. We deserve better, no matter how you voted. It’s simply democracy in action.