The supply and manufacturing of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the UK has benefitted from significant efforts building stockpiles and bolstering domestic manufacturing capacity.
Four-month stockpiles of key items such as face masks, visors and gowns are set to be in place from November to ensure a continuous, uninterrupted supply of PPE, helping to ensure staff always have access to the equipment needed.
More than 32 billion items of PPE have now been purchased to help combat coronavirus.
Domestic production of PPE has also been dramatically stepped up in recent weeks. Almost three quarters of expected demand for PPE is expected to be met by UK manufacturers from December – largely the production of items such as gowns and FFP3 face masks.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, just 1% of PPE was produced in the UK. Now, by December, it is expected that as much as 70% will be domestically produced.
The Government has also published a new PPE strategy setting out a data-driven approach to building further resilience in the supply chain to help respond to the new rise in coronavirus infection rates.
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.
“As we take every step to combat this virus we are setting out this plan to reassure our health and social care workers that they will have the PPE they need to carry out their tireless work.”
Lord Paul Deighton, adviser to the Health Secretary on PPE, added: “Covid-19 has presented many challenges and none more critical than ensuring the right PPE equipment is available at the right time to protect frontline health and social care staff.
“We have brought together a team that unites our procurement expertise and have overhauled the distribution network to rely less on overseas imports and more on our excellent businesses at home to ensure there is a reliable supply over the years to come.
“It has been an extraordinary effort by so many to get to this point but we will not lose our focus - the PPE strategy outlines how we are building further resilience in order to be ready for a new wave of infections in the autumn, winter or beyond.”