Coronavirus: PPE in Wiltshire and the wider picture

I am writing this post in response to a number of constituents raising their concernsover PPE provision. Like them, I am also very anxious to ensure that our health and social care staff get the equipment they need to keep them safe and keep them doing their vital work.

The Department for Health began work on boosting PPE stocks in January, before the first confirmed UK case, and the first additional orders of PPE were placed on January 30. With the benefit of hindsight we will be able to analyse the government’s initial response to the Covid-19 outbreak, but decisions then were being made – as they are now – with the best scientific advice, and in line with professional opinion both here and around the world.

As of April 16 almost a billion pieces of PPE have been delivered around the country. Here in Wiltshire massive efforts are being made and I have been in close contact with Wiltshire Council and the Clinical Commissioning Group. Although we must be very concerned about the stock of PPE, I am glad to say that all NHS and social care providers in Wiltshire currently have the PPE they need, and more is arriving all the time.

Everybody is, naturally, worried about kit running out in the future, but that is not what is happening at the moment. British manufacturers large and small are responding to the challenge of helping ensure our frontline staff have the personal protective equipment they need. As part of the national effort to focus the UK’s manufacturing industry on this immediate challenge, the government has issued a ‘call to arms’ for industry partners to make essential PPE that demonstrably meets our technical specifications. Companies such as Burberry, Rolls-Royce, McLaren, Ineos and Diageo have begun to produce equipment including gowns, visors and hand hygiene products.

The Health and Social Care Secretary has now appointed Paul Deighton, London 2012 Chief Executive, to lead the national effort to produce PPE. His work will include streamlining the approvals and procurement process to ensure new domestic PPE supplies are rapidly approved and get to where they are needed.

The government is working around the clock to give the social care sector and wider NHS the equipment and support they need to tackle this outbreak.