B. Braun Medical: Sharing 40 years of expertise in healthcare
This month the organisation will celebrate 40 years in Ireland, having quietly played its part in offering vital support to those working in the health service
B. Braun Medical is a subsidiary of the international B. Braun-Group, one of the world’s leading providers and manufacturers of healthcare solutions. Photograph: Getty images
They say the past is a foreign country, and Ireland’s health service was radically different back in 1980. More recently, Covid-19 has seen the health system once again turned on its head as it grapples with the fallout from a global pandemic.
B. Braun Medical has had a front-row seat for all of these changes. Next month the organisation will celebrate 40 years in Ireland and, just like Irish healthcare, throughout those four decades its offering has evolved significantly. It might not be a household name, but the company has quietly played its part in offering vital support to those working in the health service, as well as those who use it.
B. Braun Medical is a subsidiary of the international B. Braun-Group, which was founded in Germany back in 1839 and now employs 65,000 people in 64 countries. With a range comprising 5,000 different products, 95 per cent of which are manufactured by the company, it is one of the world’s leading providers and manufacturers of healthcare solutions. What sets it apart, however, are the crucial supplementary services and consulting it provides to its customers.
Paul Mullaly, managing director and country chief financial officer, has been with B. Braun almost 30 years. “I have seen it go from a company which was quite small in one sense, but we had big ambitions,” he says. “Certainly, in the last five years, the breadth and depth of the business has changed dramatically.”
With over 250 employees across a number of Irish sites, B. Braun could no longer be considered small, although Mullaly is keen to emphasise the close-knit nature of the countrywide team. The company’s operations are organised into four divisions – Hospital Care, Aesculap, Out Patient Market, and B. Braun Avitum – and each have played a key role in improving the health of people in Ireland during its time here, Mullaly explains.
The company went “over and above” once it became clear the apparently distant pandemic was going to reach Irish shores,
“That philosophy is how we try to build business – it’s not purely product-based but it’s more about the quality of the relationship,” he says. “One of our tenets is striving to improve the health of people not only across Ireland but across the world. That’s why we feel it is part of our remit to support those who look after sick people in whatever way we can. We provide them with the products, but we also provide them with knowledge – we learn from them and they learn from us.”
The coronavirus pandemic was thus a key opportunity for B. Braun to bring its knowledge and understanding of healthcare in Ireland to the fore as Irish healthcare faced an unprecedented threat, Mullaly says; “we are sharing expertise that has been built up over the past 40 years. We feel we’ve been an integral part of the fight against Covid-19 and that’s only possible because we have spent all those years building up relationships with the people there and we continue to do that.”
Liam Ferguson, also managing director at B. Braun Medical and B.Braun Avitum Ireland, agrees. He says the company went “over and above” once it became clear the apparently distant pandemic was going to reach Irish shores, working swiftly and decisively to provide critical care equipment and pharmaceuticals to Irish hospitals.
“The HSE invited key suppliers in the Irish healthcare sector back in February to an engagement forum, of which B. Braun was one,” he explains. “The HSE was very much at the vanguard in Europe in terms of preparedness and reaching out to suppliers to prepare for what was coming over the horizon. We have one of the lowest numbers of intensive care beds per capita in Europe and B. Braun was integral to the upscaling of critical care capacity across the country.”
B. Braun’s corporate colours may be green, but Ferguson says every member of the team “donned the green jersey”. As it reaches the 40th milestone, head of HR Michelle Bonner praised every member of staff, “the last six months living and working with Covid has been challenging for everyone. Locally within our teams, it has revealed such strength of character and commitment to collaboration and to each other and the healthcare community. We couldn’t be more proud of our team, than we are today.”
Ferguson agrees, “we approached it as citizens of Ireland, in terms of what role we could play and what could we do in terms of mitigating the risks of Covid-19 to the health of the nation. We did everything possible to ensure that the equipment and supply needs of critical care products were brought into the Irish healthcare system and mobilised to patient bedsides in a fast and effective and as safe a way as possible.”
One of the many challenges posed by Covid-19 was that it would have a knock-on effect for dialysis services
Meanwhile, the company also provides dialysis care on behalf of the HSE to patients with advanced, or end stage, kidney disease in the west, south-east and midlands. Ferguson explains that one of the many challenges posed by Covid-19 was that it would have a knock-on effect for both acute and chronic dialysis services.
“We have been delivering world class care to 150 patients through our three dialysis centres for the past 15 years in Galway, Wexford and Portlaoise. BBraun Wellstone Galway has been in operation since 2006 and since then we established the first green field dialysis centre in the non-statutory sector in Wexford in 2018 followed by the opening of Wellstone Midlands in Portlaoise in 2019. Back in February we were asked by the HSE to rapidly scale up our services to prepare for the possible influx of patients. The company and everybody associated with it really got behind our mission. As Irish citizens our company and colleagues really rose to the challenge and it’s something we are immensely proud of.”
The next challenge for the company will be a smooth navigation of Brexit-induced choppy waters, with the uninterrupted supply of healthcare equipment and pharmaceuticals more important than ever. “We source the vast majority of our products from inside the European Union, and we also exclusively use the ‘sea bridge’ so all of our products are shipped to Ireland, meaning we aren’t reliant on the land bridge in the UK.” This tallies with the company philosophy that proximity to the customer is best, he adds.
As one of the leading privately-owned healthcare enterprises in the world, a core value for the company is sustainability, Ferguson notes. This heritage also informs their ethos when it comes to doing business, he adds.
“We first and foremost must be trustworthy and transparent in terms of our engagement with our partners in the Irish healthcare system. We are also focused on recognition and our number one attitude is gratitude for our staff and particularly as we approach our 40th anniversary. We are very privileged to do what we do and to have that team of talent to benefit Irish healthcare.”
For more information, visit www.bbraun.com/en/company/contact/locations/bbraun-in-ireland.html