SCEA 2021 Winner – ‘Public Sector Supply Chain Excellence Award’: Department of Health & Social Care with Uniserve

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Arguably the loudest cheer at the Supply Chain Excellence Awards last Monday, 8th November, came when Uniserve and the Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) were announced as the winners of the ‘Public Sector Supply Chain Excellence Award’.

The award was presented by Logistics Manager’s Property Editor, Liza Helps, after the big reveal from special guest host Shaun Williamson.

Uniserve was contacted by representatives of the UK government, specifically the DHSC, on 22nd March 2020 with an urgent request for help so, without hesitation, the logistics expert stepped up to the plate.

The UK needed to source supplies of medical equipment for frontline key workers in huge quantities, but the NHS’s usual vendors of PPE couldn’t keep pace with soaring global demand. Alternatives had to be found, and quickly. Within days of the first contact from the government, the first flight from the Far East touched down in the UK, packed with life-saving medical supplies and equipment (including the crucially important ventilators) destined for the NHS’s frontlines.

Uniserve also took responsibility for vendor contract management, systems, processes, customs, warehousing, air and surface freight operations, UK delivery and storage, to move healthcare supplies from around the world to and within the UK.

The scale of the overall effort was huge and included – but was not limited to – more than 1,000 full air charter flights of PPE/medical equipment, more than 15,000 containers of PPE by sea, and 2,500 containers of PPE from China by dedicated charter rail services.

But what really sets Uniserve’s Covid-19 response apart is that it provided the supply chain and technological framework that the UK government has relied on to co-ordinate all of its PPE supply chains from all vendors, partners and suppliers.

Despite the unprecedented scenario, billions of items of PPE were successfully supplied to the NHS frontlines despite huge competition from representatives of other nations for supply. Perhaps of more significance, since we are not out of the woods yet coming into the winter months, the DHSC procurement capabilities have been significantly improved by Uniserve’s supply chain management services/training and the UK now has a robust PPE supply chain framework to help address any future health crises.

“This project epitomised the willingness of suppliers and individuals to go the extra mile to support the pandemic response,” the judges stated after their deliberations. “The scale and complexity of the operations undertaken by Uniserve were enormous and they played a vital role in freighting PPE, ventilators and other critical products during the initial phase of the pandemic.”

What they said… The spirit and commitment of every one of our people to keep our customers’ supply chains and our country’s PPE supply chain going has been amazing. This immense public sector supply chain management effort was not something Uniserve sought out, but when the call came, we delivered.

What we said… There was high praise from DHSC regarding Uniserve’s performance and we were very much impressed that they appeared as ‘one team’. There was clear evidence of innovative thinking to respond in a highly complex, fast-changing environment. This project was essential to the pandemic response in the UK.

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