Responding to the delay in the delivery of PPE from Turkey, Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across healthcare, said:
“This is very serious and makes a difficult situation worse. It would have been better had the government not made the announcement in the first place – we know shipments in this supply chain are unreliable and even when they do arrive they are not always what is expected. In future the NHS will expect announcements when supplies have arrived not promises about what may or may not be delivered.
“It now looks more likely that supplies of gowns could run out in some places but everything that can be done will be done to protect patients and staff. We understand there are other potential sources of supply but to be clear nothing is guaranteed. We accept that this is difficult for everyone, but we now need action not words.
“There was already a loss of confidence and real anxiety across the NHS and care system around PPE supply – this will have been further eroded by what has happened this weekend. It will not be restored until we have a stable supply chain and certainty that staff will be given what they need when they need it. At the moment we are a long way from that point.
“If any staff are being asked to wear equipment that is not part of the official guidance, it should be in line with the emergency alert order. In these circumstances there will need to be discussion locally with staff associations and trade unions with the experts in the hospital about what is available and individual members of staff should be able to make their own assessment as to whether they feel they will be adequately protected.”