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PPE supply problems remain despite national efforts

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) have been hitting the headlines. With many disabled people in need of PPE for their care provider, charity Leonard Cheshire reports on the continuing problems.

As the largest charity provider of social care, supporting around 3,000 people at 120 residential services, we are able to see first-hand the situation with PPE.

Social care providers still can’t get adequate supplies of vital personal protective equipment through Local Resilience Forums (LRFs), which were mobilised by the Government as part of its response to Coronavirus.

We’ve found that forums can at best supply a maximum of 72 hours’ worth of equipment. Other forums appear to have even less stock at their disposal or have run out entirely.

One council told us that they are so low on supplies they may have to close some care homes.

There are 38 LRFs in England, which are made up of emergency services, a range of government agencies, health bodies and local authorities.

LRFs plan for major emergencies to reduce or prevent the impact on communities in their area.

The continued problems with PPE supply come at a time of huge demand for the life-saving masks, gowns, gloves and aprons across the health and social care sector as a result of Covid-19. 

We understand that all councils provided the Government with estimates of stock required so that they had enough PPE for essential services in their area, such as GP clinics and care homes.

We as a charity are spending around £400,000 per month on PPE, including needing 50,000 masks a week.

We recently launched a fundraising appeal to ask the public to help it meet these unprecedented costs. Any help you can give is much appreciated.

Support from our own supply chain, smaller suppliers and firms adapting to PPE production means it now has adequate supplies of most items for several weeks. This has only been achieved after a mammoth effort by us.

Our CEO, Neil Heslop, said: “Despite claims by Ministers that supply chain issues are almost resolved, this is not what organisations at the frontline are experiencing on the ground. The Government must get a firm grip on this. Sadly, much of the rhetoric we are hearing is not matched by the reality.

PPE is only being provided by Local Resilience Forums in relatively small volumes and in some cases supplies appear exhausted.

It’s deeply worrying that such problems persist at this key stage, particularly with easing of lockdown measures widely trailed, and with such slow progress being made in suppressing spread of this deadly virus.

Frontline teams are delivering for vulnerable people every day in very difficult circumstances, they deserve better.”

Head to the Leonard Cheshire website to donate to its fundraiser and help it ensure supplies of PPE are available across its residential services.

By Leonard Cheshire

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