Case study: Department for Health and Social Care, UK Government

The Client: Department for Health and Social Care, UK Government

The Brief: To source and supply a large volume of sterile surgical gowns.

The Challenge: The pandemic caused a major global demand for surgical gowns, coinciding with a shortage of raw material and production capacity. Compounded with this was a shortage of capacity in sterilisation plants for PPE, and most production facilities switched to produce non-sterile gowns, causing widescale disruption to supply chains. Without sterile surgical gowns, the NHS was unable to conduct surgical procedures.

The Supply Source Solution: Delivered in August 2020 at the height of the pandemic, Supply Source worked with the UK government to save the supply chain of sterile surgical gowns. Once an appropriate factory was found, Supply Source conducted a rigorous due diligence process to ensure smooth supply; we commissioned a Tier 1 law firm to verify all the certification of the company, and carried out a full in-person factory inspection and audit to ensure high labour standards were being adhered to. Supply Source negotiated with the manufacturer on behalf of DHSC to ensure a capacity commitment to fulfil the complete order, in an environment where multiple countries were competing for the same capacity. Our ethical solution was negotiated directly with the manufacturer, getting control over the pricing of raw materials, and ultimately delivering a cost-effective supply at a time of extreme demand. The supply was arranged on an ex works basis; the UK government managed their own shipping logistics directly with the supplier once Supply Source had the production agreement in place. In order to provide additional assurance, we commissioned a third-party testing house to take a sample from every batch of the gowns produced prior to their collection by DHSC to test their integrity and sterility. Our work ensured that the required £117 million contract for sterile surgical gowns was successfully delivered in the required timeframe by enabling a rapid ramp up of production.

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