latest health care news

23.03.20

Armed Forces to help deliver PPE to frontline NHS staff

Concerns over shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline NHS staff are looking to be alleviated as the Armed Forces will begin assisting in delivering the vital preventative equipment to health workers battling the coronavirus outbreak.

Hospital trusts have been told they will begin receiving deliveries of PPE such as masks, safety glasses, gloves, aprons and protective suits “around the clock”.

Previously, NHS staff warned that the existing supply chain wouldn’t be able to help provide them with enough correct equipment to protect themselves as they treat hundreds of coronavirus patients, leading to Health Secretary Matt Hancock announcing on Monday army trucks would deliver the equipment to “all who need it”.

According to NHS England, millions of additional PPE items had been delivered to hospitals, ambulance trusts and care homes.

PPE shipments were reportedly sent to every hospital over the weekend according to the Health Secretary, with Mr Hancock asking trusts to let him know if there were gaps in supply. The intention is for a constant flow of PPE to healthcare sites to help protect frontline workers from the virus.

Medical staff had vocally raised the issue of PPE supplies over the weekend, with almost 4,000 NHS workers signing a Sunday Times letter calling on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to protect frontline staff’s lives by resolving the “unacceptable shortage of protective equipment”. Many said they were having to treat patients with Covid-19 without appropriate protection.

The coronavirus outbreak has put the national PPE supply chain under significant pressure, as well as facing challenges due to manufacturing slowdown globally, particularly in China, but the NHS was confident enough PPE was available, it just needed distributed faster – with the Army called upon from now to help support these deliveries.

Emily Lawson, Chief Commercial Officer for the NHS, said: "We need massively increased, urgent volume of these supplies to the frontline in this exceptional set of circumstances.

"Working with our partners, we are now seeing much increased capacity, and a more responsive supply chain to help take us through the coronavirus outbreak. We are extremely grateful for the Army's support in doing so."

Mr Hancock added: "In the face of this unprecedented global emergency, never has the need to bolster our workforce and arm them with the vital tools they need to save lives been more crucial.

"We are taking urgent action to ensure dedicated frontline NHS and social care staff - who are working tirelessly to tackle this outbreak - feel supported.

"We are working round the clock to make sure trucks are on the ground across the country delivering protective equipment to all who need it, so they are well-equipped to continue to fight the virus."

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