A new service to deliver urgent medicines and medical products into the UK has been set up as part of Brexit preparations, the Department of Health and Social Care has announced.

The £25 million contract to set up an express freight service aims to be completed in the next one to four days, as part of the government’s plans to support continuity of supply when the UK leaves the EU on 31 October.

The department has announced that the service is intended to deliver small parcels of medicines or medical products on a 24-hour basis, with additional provision to move larger pallet quantities on a two to four-day basis - available to the whole of the UK.

The new service will support existing plans already in place, including building buffer stocks of medicines and medical products, changing or clarifying regulatory requirements so that companies can continue to sell their products in the UK if we have no deal and strengthening the process and resources used to deal with shortages.

While the majority of goods will be standard medicines and medical products, the express freight service can also deliver temperature-controlled products if needed.

The contract notice has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union and potential bidders have until 21 August to submit proposals, with successful providers expected to be announced in September.

Health Minister Chris Skidmore said that he wants to “ensure that when we leave the EU at the end of October, all appropriate steps have been taken to ensure frontline services are fully prepared.”

He also stated that he is “stepping up preparations and strengthening our already extremely resilient contingency plans.

This express freight service sends a clear message to the public that our plans should ensure supply of medical goods remains uninterrupted as we leave the EU.”