The government has provided an update on moves to improve access to PPE supplies following reports of severe shortages across the country.
The plans to support access to PPE across the health and social care system were shared by the Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) on Tuesday.
A DHSC spokesperson said: “We appreciate the challenges providers many have experienced in obtaining PPE supplies over recent weeks. An increase in demand for both PPE and non-PPE products has put the supply chain to deliver such products under significant pressure.”
The DHSC stressed the importance of following national guidance on the usage of PPE equipment to maximise stocks.
In order to address the capacity constraints within the NHS Supply Chain network, a ‘dedicated PPE channel’ has been set up by the DHSC, NHSE/I, NHS Supply Chain and the Army to improve the speed and reliability of delivery of these items and relieve pressure on the normal supply chain to deliver ‘business as usual’ products.
Until the Parallel Supply Chain is fully operational, the government said it was working to provide stock of PPE equipment to wholesalers and distributors for pharmacies, GPs, dentists, adult social care providers (such as care homes), and the third sector (such as hospices).
Secondly, the DHSC said it had mobilised the National Supply Disruption Response (NSDR).
Providers who have an urgent requirement for PPE, which they are unable to secure through their business as usual channels, have been advised to contact the NSDR via the 24/7 helpline: 0800 915 9964 (Freephone number in the UK), and a Direct Line from overseas: 0191 283 6543.
On Tuesday, Home Care Insight reported that care providers have had to resort to crowdfunding to cover the costs of PPE as they struggle to obtain government supplies.
The DHSC said it is “working around the clock” to give the NHS and the wider social care sector the equipment and support they need to tackle this outbreak.
Meanwhile, attempts to independently source PPE have, in some cases, been prevented as care providers are being told by suppliers that their orders had been diverted to the NHS.