MPs demand detailed PPE plan ahead of potential second COVID-19 wave

Parliamentary committee wants clarity on supply plans within two months

The NHS National Procurement Warehouse at Canderside in Larkhall. Picture: PA 

The government has been urged to explain its personal protective equipment (PPE) supply plans for the NHS and care sectors, ahead of a potential second wave of COVID-19.

The parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said it was ‘extremely concerned’ by widely reported PPE shortages in recent months, and demanded to see a detailed PPE plan within two months.

Not convinced the government is treating lack of PPE with ‘sufficient urgency’

In a new report, the PAC highlighted its concerns and called on the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to outline when it expected to have a predictable supply of stock and ready access to PPE.

‘Although the department says it is committed to building up PPE stocks to meet longer-term demand, we are not convinced that it is treating the matter with sufficient urgency or that the procurement is robust enough.

‘In particular, the governance arrangements to procure and distribute PPE across health and social care remain unclear and uncertainty prevails around future provision of local PPE across the health and social care sectors.

‘It is absolutely vital that the same problems do not happen again in the event of a second wave.’

‘Deep, long-term underlying problems’ in NHS funding

Chair of the committee Meg Hillier said: ‘There must be total focus now on where the problems were in procurement and supply in the first wave, and on eradicating them.’

She added that the pandemic had thrown ‘deep, long-term underlying problems’ in NHS capital and financial management into stark relief.

‘There is no room and must be zero tolerance for allowing the underlying funding problems to continue,’ she said.

Government rejects Public Accounts Committee’s claims 

A DHSC spokesperson said the government does not accept the committee’s claims made in its report.

‘We have been working around the clock to deliver PPE to the front line throughout this global pandemic, working with industry, the NHS and the armed forces to create a distribution network to supply over 58,000 settings.’

Two billion items of PPE have been delivered and 28 billion items have been ordered for future supply, the DHSC spokesperson added, but did not comment when asked if the government would meet the two-month PPE plan deadline.

10% of COVID-19 infections in England are among healthcare workers

A lack of social distancing in communal work areas may have led to health and social care staff catching and spreading COVID-19, a new study has found.

The Data Evaluation and Learning for Viral Epidemics (DELVE) study found that at least 10% of all COVID-19 infections in England between April 26 and June 7 were among healthcare workers who deal with patients, and social care workers looking after care home residents.

DELVE cited inconsistent use of face masks, lack of social distancing between staff in communal areas such as canteens, and a failure to rapidly identify new infections as some of the issues that led to the spread of the virus.


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