Health and social care workers treating COVID-19 patients have access to an uninterrupted supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), the government has confirmed.
Four-month stockpiles of items such as face masks, visors and gowns will be in place from November to provide a continuous flow to the frontline, helping to ensure staff always have the equipment they need. Overall, 32 billion items have now been purchased.
Thanks to the unprecedented domestic production of PPE, for items such gowns and FFP3 facemasks, 70 per cent of the expected demand for PPE will be met by UK manufacturers from December. Businesses have been supporting the national effort by creating hundreds of new jobs and reducing reliance on overseas companies. Before the pandemic, just 1 per cent of PPE was produced in the UK.
Health and Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “At the start of the pandemic, meeting the huge demands for PPE was a massive challenge.”
“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.”
“We have built robust and resilient supply chains from scratch and thanks to an absolutely phenomenal effort from UK businesses, almost three quarters of demand for PPE will soon be met by UK manufacturers.”
“As we take every step to combat this virus we are setting out this plan to reassure our health and social care workers that they will have the PPE they need to carry out their tireless work.”
Since February 2020, over 3.5 billion PPE items have been distributed to the frontline, including GPs, social care providers, community pharmacists, dentists and hospices.
Amid unparalleled demand, the average number of items of PPE distributed increased considerably. For example:
- during the peak of the pandemic from 20 April to 26 April, 102 million items of PPE were delivered. 121 million items were delivered between 14 and 20 September now we have more resilient supply chains
- the normal supply chain for PPE was designed to accommodate delivery to 226 NHS Trusts, but essential supplies are now being sent to 58,000 different settings after a new distribution network was built from scratch
- we have rapidly processed over 23,000 cases from over 15,000 suppliers to ensure they meet the safety and quality standards that our NHS staff need, as well as prioritising offers of larger volumes. We have actively engaged with over 99% of the companies that have offered PPE. We now have sufficient contracted supplies for our foreseeable demand in all product areas
- we announced free PPE to support care homes as part of our new Adult Social Care Winter Plan