Health and social care workers have been promised an “uninterrupted supply” of Personal Protective Equipment from November.
The government announced today that four-month stockpiles of items such as face masks and visors will be in place to provide a “continuous flow” to the frontline.
The announcement came as the government published a new PPE strategy setting out a data-driven approach to building further resilience in the supply chain in response 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.”
The government said over 32 billion of items of PPE had already been supplied to health and social care workers with 70% of demand expected to be met by UK businesses by December.
But at the height of the pandemic, home care providers said they struggled to get hold of adequate volumes of PPE to be confident that they could continue to provide care for their clients.
As such, providers were left to rely on private suppliers, many of which are still hiking their prices up or diverting their stock to the NHS.
Commenting on the news, Social Care Institute for Excellence chief executive Kathryn Smith said: “It’s so important that PPE supplies are kept going through the winter and we’re glad that there’s now a strategy to address this. We all remember the challenges of having consistent PPE supplies when lockdown first hit; many will be so concerned about the winter months in all care settings.
“And this is a key point: It’s not just about care homes, even though that is a vital area that needs covering. For those who employ or work as PAs, their experiences, concerns and key lessons haven’t always been heard. It’s so important that this strategy is adopted throughout care and support services. There should now be no reason for this important area of infection control to be compromised.”