ABHI Membership

The Impact of COVID-19: A Case Study from Mediplus

Life is a journey, not a destination...and my gosh is this part of the journey, an emotional rollercoaster!

As a British SME, manufacturing products used in Anaesthesia, Gynaecology and Urology, the impact of COVID-19 has been a completely surreal experience.

All our products are centred around patients. It is why we do what we do. In the first week of the lockdown, we saw demand for some products literally fall off a cliff, whereas demand for others didn’t change. When you see products sitting on the shelf, you can’t help thinking about the wider impact. A few weeks later, as the management approach of patients battling with the virus seemed to change slightly, we have seen a very steep increase in demand for some products.

Trying to manage this from a cash point of view is not that easy. From an emotional point of view, it is even harder. You can, in some way, plan for seasonal variations in demand, but when the NHS stops all planned care overnight and you are left with 2-3 months stock not going anywhere, you have quite a few sleepless nights trying to figure out what to do. You ask yourself; How long can we survive this? What can we do to survive this? Can we survive this? When you get a huge demand for product; How can we make enough? This throws up a whole other set of challenges. I know each and every company in the UK is living this to some extent, and we will all get through this. 

When we had to get as many staff as possible working from home, everyone in the company did a fantastic job of making this happen. One thing I did not realise, or really think about, is it’s not easy working from home if you haven’t done it before. Some of our team are really struggling with it. We have weekly team meetings to try to keep the great morale we have at Mediplus going, and each department has regular team meetings to stay in touch. I thank all the Mediplus team for their resolve and strength of character, and for helping each other out during this time. 

Most of the help and support from the government is essential and very much welcomed. The Job Retention Scheme is great, but it is still emotional furloughing staff. I hope we can get back to whatever the new normal is going to be soon.

I am looking forward to the NHS embracing change as a result of all this. Removing the philosophy of chasing every penny. Negotiating 1/2p off a tea bag will never deliver the required cost savings. Changing the way we do things will. I am sure digital will play a big part in this, but so will medical devices. They always have. We, like many other SME’s, have products that can save the NHS significant sums of money each year. Now is the time to figure out how we can collectively deliver these cost and efficiency savings here in the UK, but also export them to further help UK plc.

We proudly manufacture in the UK, we always have and always will. Like other companies we have also had to look further afield. We need to bring manufacturing back to the UK for all the reasons you can think of and more.

The ABHI has been great answering any and every question we have had on all things COVID-19 related. Their thinking ahead to whatever the new normal is, and putting across the industry viewpoint to the government, has been terrific, and long may it continue. As always, I will do what I can to put across the SME point of view.

Stay safe everyone.

James Urie, Sales & Marketing Director, Mediplus & ABHI Board Member