The government has promised health and care workers will get an ‘uninterrupted supply’ of PPE as it launches a national strategy to bolster the supply chain.
Health secretary Matt Hancock has today announced the government has purchased 4bn items have now been purchased and a four-month stockpile will be in place from November.
It has also published a new PPE strategy setting out a data-driven approach to building further resilience in the supply chain to respond to rising rates of coronavirus infection
Councils and care homes faced significant problems accessing PPE during the early months of the pandemic with a shortage of equipment.
In July, a cross-party group of MPs criticised the government for failing to have a ‘clear understanding’ of the PPE equipment needed for health and care workers, or how to distribute it.
‘At the start of the pandemic, meeting the huge demands for PPE was a massive challenge,’ said Mr Hancock.
‘That’s why we have worked every day since to ensure we have an uninterrupted supply to meet the challenges in the coming months and protect those who are protecting us.’
Unison’s head of health Sara Gorton said health staff and care workers need reassurances there’ll be no repeats of the nightmares with safety kit shortages they faced in the spring.
‘It’s good most protective equipment will now be coming from UK firms, so supplies will be guaranteed and won’t have to be shipped as far,’ she aded.
‘Other aspects of staff welfare must also be tackled to increase safety and reduce the pressures. They all need proper breaks and the chance to take leave.’
And the chief executive of the NHS Confederation, Danny Mortimer said ‘the devil will be in the detail’ but welcomed the publication of the national PPE strategy.
‘It’s encouraging to learn that domestic production of PPE is set to meet 70 per cent of expected demand from December,’ said Mr Mortimer.
‘The distribution and availability of PPE to primary care and social care during the first wave of the virus was a significant concern for members and we now have the clarity of free access to PPE stockpiles,’ he added.
‘It’s vitally important that stock gets to where it is needed in good time as we head towards what is expected to be a very challenging period particularly as unlike the first phase, the hope is that the NHS can continue to maintain as many services and routine procedures as possible. This is a much-needed strategy but given the experience of the first peak, its success will be in its execution.’
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