A major UK procurement platform is helping healthcare providers secure essential supplies of PPE.
Edge4Health, a cloud-based, consumer-style marketplace developed by NHS Shared Business Services and technology company Virtualstock, is an extension of the NHS Supply Chain and displays around two million products of PPE and IT equipment from 5,000 suppliers.
All suppliers on the Edge4Health platform are verified with a certificate from the Department of Health and Social Care, and have already been supplying the NHS.
Prior to this crisis, 20 trusts were fully integrated on the platform, but the catalogue solution is now used by 139 trusts out of 240 in the country.
Since March 20, £30 million worth of products have been purchased through the platform from those 20 integrated trusts.
Ed Bradley, Founder and Director of Virtualstock: “The fundamental misconception about the current shortage of PPE equipment is that it is only one of availability, whereas accessibility to stock is a major issue.
“There are suppliers up and down the country who can cater for the current surge in demand and fulfil many of the NHS’, primary care and care homes requirements. The issue lies in the NHS Supply Chain, which is sufficient in normal conditions, but finds itself overwhelmed in a crisis scenario.”
The Edge4Health platform is free to use and providers can register to access PPE supplies by clicking here.
“Amidst this scramble to meet increased demand is the administrative burden for suppliers to obtain a certificate of suitability from the Department of Health of Social Care. The backlog in this process means that some suppliers have become impatient, and in some cases diverted attentions to selling in other countries, where there is also a pressing need for key equipment. In the meantime other suppliers, already authenticated, are primed with product that’s ready to be shipped,” added Bradley.
“Lack of access to much-needed products has left some trusts and care homes scrambling for products via the internet; this ‘wild west’ approach leaves trusts at risk of purchasing unauthenticated products at extortionate prices.”