Huge increase in UK PPE production to protect health and social care workers
In the fight against COVID-19, health and social care workers are set to have access to an uninterrupted supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has unveiled today.
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 of PPE have now been purchased, the government has confirmed.
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, simultaneously creating hundreds of new jobs and reducing reliance on overseas companies. Before the pandemic, just one per cent of PPE was produced in the UK.
Additionally, the government has today 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
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.
In addition, DHSC notes that 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.
To ensure social care staff have access to the vital equipment they need, the government also announced free PPE to support care homes as part of the new Adult Social Care Winter Plan.