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Billions of PPE items on order as NHS prepares for second wave of COVID-19

Four-month stockpiles of personal protective equipment for nurses and healthcare workers set to be in place from November
A worker gather supplies at the NHS' National Procurement Warehouse at Canderside, Larkhall, as deliveries of personal protective equipment are being increased, with millions of masks and gloves have already delivered to front-line staff

Four-month stockpiles of personal protective equipment, such as face masks, visors and gowns for nurses and healthcare workers, set to be in place from November

Billions of items of personal protective equipment (PPE) have been bought by the government as the number of COVID-19 cases start to rise again.

The Department of

Four-month stockpiles of personal protective equipment, such as face masks, visors and gowns for nurses and healthcare workers, set to be in place from November

 PA
Supplies at the NHS National Procurement Warehouse at Canderside, Larkhall. Picture: PA

Billions of items of personal protective equipment (PPE) have been bought by the government as the number of COVID-19 cases start to rise again.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) revealed in its new PPE strategy that four-month stockpiles of items like face masks, visors and gowns for nurses and healthcare workers will be in place from November.

Availability of PPE was a huge issue when the UK was hit by its first wave of the virus earlier this year, with a reliance on overseas manufacturers.

Majority of PPE items will be sourced from the UK

The DHSC reveals that it has 32 billion PPE items on order, adding that 70% of the expected demand for PPE will be met by UK manufacturers from December.

Before the pandemic, just 1% of PPE was produced in the UK, the DHSC said.

Since February, more than 3.5 billion PPE items have been sent to the front line.

Nurses need to be reassured there will be no repeats of PPE shortages

Commenting on the announcement Unison’s head of health Sara Gorton said nurses and healthcare staff need reassurance that there will be no more repeats of PPE shortages.

Ms Gorton noted that it was good most PPE will be coming from the UK so supplies will not have to be shipped.  


Sara Gorton. Picture: Barney Newman

‘Other aspects of staff welfare must also be tackled to increase safety and reduce the pressures. They all need proper breaks and the chance to take leave,’ she added.

RCN director of nursing, policy and public affairs Susan Masters said she welcomed the government’s PPE strategy. 

'We have built robust and resilient supply chains from scratch'

‘Nursing staff in all settings have already seen the impact of not being able to access the right PPE or testing where and when they need it, and this cannot be allowed to happen again.’

She added: ‘If the government wants this to work, they must ensure that PPE is designed to meet the needs of nursing staff while also meeting technical specifications.’

Talking about the new strategy, health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘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.’

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Department of Health and Social Care – Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Strategy


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