Responding to the Government’s announcement of new domestic PPE production for staff, Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, said:
“This is yet another big promise and it may well be justified but the time for celebration will be when every member of staff across health and social care has access to the protective equipment they need, when they need it. In spite of the progress that has been made we are still some way from achieving that.
“However understandable it may be, we know staff confidence has been hit by confusion over guidance, by supply difficulties and promises not being met. The urgent task now is to move from hand to mouth to constant and consistent supply. Even though the number of cases may be falling for now the rate at which these items are used is truly staggering.
“We do understand the aim of sourcing international stocks as a nation but until there is full confidence in the national supply chain, our members and their partners will continue to rely on topping up through their own regional suppliers. We are also still waiting for an online platform which GP, community and social care services can rely on.
“This is a massive undertaking but the ambition to create a solid domestic supply is the right one, not just for now but for always. Given the costs it is unlikely we will ever be self-sufficient in normal times but planning for a future epidemic must involve the creation of a large enough home industry that can step up in an emergency if and when needed, as well as a national stockpile that is routinely refreshed and replenished.
“We also very much welcome the extension of Lord Deighton’s appointment to oversee the whole PPE process. Restoring staff confidence will take time but we seem to be heading in the right direction.”