Coexistence, cooperation and collaboration in the coronavirus pandemic
Barema was founded in 1971 to represent companies that manufacture or supply anaesthetic and respiratory equipment in or to the UK, enabling the sector as a whole to work with the medical profession and other stakeholders, including the Association of Anaesthetists, RCoA and the Intensive Care Society; as such Barema have maintained a healthy interactive relationship with the Association for almost 50 years.
A key part of Barema’s vision is to maintain the anaesthesia and respiratory sector’s enviable reputation for delivering exceptionally high levels of quality, safety and reliability. Through our training policy and Code of Practice, in association with the life science industry and in collaboration with the NHS and the Academy for Healthcare Science, we have developed a high-quality, accredited credentialing register for life sciences staff who interact directly with NHS front-line staff and/or patients. This offers the NHS total confidence in our industry representatives.
Barema’s role is vital in helping British industry support patient safety in anaesthesia and respiratory care, and never more so than in these unprecedented and challenging times. COVID-19 was declared a pandemic on 11 March by the WHO, with the UK Government announcing full lockdown from Monday 23 March. During this crisis, the role of the medical device industry has been critical in ensuring life-saving equipment has reached every hospital expeditiously. Our industry sector, with members ranging from multi-national businesses to small- and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), has conducted itself in an exemplary manner, offering the NHS their unwavering and unparalleled support. With the development of the NHS Nightingale Hospitals as part of the nationwide re-organisation of NHS Services, additional installation, commission and training was immediately forthcoming. In many cases, increased requirements have resulted in industry having to absorb extortionate freight charges and significant additional costs, turning a blind eye to zero margins. Whilst abiding by Government rules and guidelines, manufacturing and working hours have been extended, including the introduction of split-shift patterns and the implementation of stay-safe measures.
Industry workers from managers to warehouse assistants have risen to the challenge and shown outstanding levels of commitment to ensure continued high standards of customer service and support, often being reassigned to different roles. Companies have adapted their premises, accommodating social distancing measures and providing essential facilities for their employees, with territory managers required to stay overnight in nearby hotels offering limited services and no catering facilities.
In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, future challenges and implications are multifold, encompassing on-line platforms for virtual meetings and training sessions. Furthermore, industry will have a key part to play in NHS Reset’s plans to rebuild local systems, redefining the way we plan, commission and deliver healthcare.
Barema remains committed to extending its values across the anaesthetic and respiratory sector to the benefit of individual patients and clinicians, as well as continuing to demonstrate its understanding of the challenges faced by the NHS. It is our hope that the NHS, following a lengthy period of restricted access to company representatives, will welcome industry support back into its hospitals soon.
The medical device industry has unreservedly stepped up to the plate and lived up to its core values. Through our companies and people we really make a difference. Can the NHS live without industry?