Millions more items of personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline staff have been delivered to NHS services across the country in the last few days as part of the fight against coronavirus.
Hospitals, ambulance trusts, GP practices, pharmacists, care homes and hospices have all been receiving additional supplies over the past week, sourced by the Department of Health and Social Care and its suppliers, with the kit drops set to continue to match demand.
Over the last three days alone more than 200 organisations, including all NHS hospitals, received fresh supplies of facemasks and other PPE along with ambulance trusts and other NHS organisations.
From this week the army will play its part by offering service personnel to help to manage and offload supplies in busy NHS settings, helping to distribute and deliver urgent contractor PPE supplies to the frontline during the coronavirus epidemic.
Hospital trusts and other healthcare organisations are being told that while the aim is to deliver supplies in usual working hours, given the volume and scale of the operation, they will also receiving deliveries at evenings and weekends.
It follows on from the publication of new official guidance on the supply and use of PPE to the healthcare system, and the new dedicated PPE supply hotline which allows organisations to order more PPE 24 hours a day.
Professor Keith Willett, Medical Director for Acute Care & Emergency Preparedness, for NHS England, said:
“The NHS is now having to use high quantities of equipment to protect staff and combat the virus as it spreads, and hospitals are now receiving substantial extra deliveries to meet their needs.
"The full weight of the Government is behind this to ensure supplies we need across the NHS are procured and delivered to replenish hospital, ambulance and community stocks.”
Emily Lawson, chief commercial officer for the NHS said:
“We need massively increased, urgent volume of these supplies to the frontline in this exceptional set of circumstances.
"Working with our partners, we are now seeing much increased capacity, and a more responsive supply chain to help take us through the coronavirus outbreak. We are extremely grateful for the army’s support in doing so.”
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:
“In the face of this unprecedented global emergency, never has the need to bolster our workforce and arm them with the vital tools they need to save lives been more crucial.
“We are taking urgent action to ensure dedicated frontline NHS and social care staff – who are working tirelessly to tackle this outbreak – feel supported. Today they are getting millions more PPE kits as part of that promise.
“We are working round the clock to make sure trucks are on the ground across the country delivering protective equipment to all who need it, so they are well-equipped to continue to fight the virus.”
The national stockpile reserved for pandemic influenza has been released for use across the board and DHSC determine that there is currently an adequate national supply of vital protective equipment if used in line with PHE's recommendations.
New figures show the scale of the military-sized operation to ensure the steady supply for all those who need it over the coming weeks and months:
The coronavirus epidemic is generating unprecedented global demand on the supply chain, combined with manufacturing slowdown in affected countries, especially China which manufactures a large amount of PPE.
The NHS is working closely with the government, NHS Supply Chain and industry to continue to secure additional supplies.
As part of the new guidance, trusts will also be asked to ensure that all relevant staff have received the necessary fit-test training – with new courses put on for staff using PPE.