Sajid Javid has instructed NHS trusts to exit contracts with Russian and Belarussian suppliers “as soon as possible” within the terms of those in response to the ongoing Ukraine crisis. An overview of the contracts from those regions is to be submitted to the Department for Health and Social Care, and plans to exit them, according to a letter sent to NHS providers from the Secretary of State.
UK businesses and state bodies have been distancing themselves from high-profile Russian firms, and sanctions lists have been drawn up by many international Governments. The NHS has come under pressure over the past week to end contracts with the UK subsidiary of Gazprom, a Russian state-controlled energy company. Multiple NHS trusts are buying gas from the firm, the Health Service Journal revealed last week.
There has been anxiety in NHS procurement circles on whether exiting contracts early will lead to financial penalties. The Secretary of State recognised these concerns in the letter, but didn’t offer any financial support with the potential costs.
HSJ has also seen an accompanying note from NHS England. This says: “As outlined in the [Secretary of State’s] letter, where there is a risk of significant financial impact or critical loss of service impacts to terminating contracts immediately, commercial teams will want to consider these carefully and need to develop a roadmap to exit these relationships as soon as practically possible.”
It continues: ”In order to meet this request, we ask NHS organisations to review direct tier 1 contracts with Russian and Belarussian suppliers and inform us how and at what point those contracts could be exited in a legally compliant manner. This should include any potential additional costs, financial implications, end of contract dates, notice periods, break clauses, as well as any other issues such as the potential impact on patient services and alternative available suppliers.”