UK strengthens protection of frontline workers in preparation for winter

UK strengthens protection of frontline workers in preparation for winter

Frontline workers in the UK will now have access to an uninterrupted supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) whilst treating COVID-19 patients.

The Government has confirmed that 32 billion items of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) have been purchased, including items such as face masks, visors, and gowns. These will be available for frontline health and social care workers treating COVID-19 patients from November.

The Government recently published a new PPE strategy setting out a data-driven approach to building further resilience in the supply chain to respond to rising rates of coronavirus infection. Domestic production will now account for 70% of the UK’s PPE supply from December compared to just 1% before the COVID-19 pandemic. It also announced free PPE to support care homes as part of the new Adult Social Care Winter Plan.

Protecting frontline workers

COVID-19 has created an unprecedented demand for PPE and the UK has seen over 3.5 billion items distributed on the frontline since February. Before the pandemic, the UK’s supply chain for PPE accommodated delivery to 226 NHS Trusts, but has seen an increase, with supplies now being sent to 58,000 different settings due to the building of a brand new distribution network.

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 Deighton, the Government’s advisor on PPE who has also been appointed to oversee supply and ramp up manufacturing of PPE from UK-based companies, said: “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.”

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