• Clipper Logistics chosen to manage PPE-only supply channel
  • Trust deliveries due to begin daily from Tuesday
  • Community deliveries anticipated to begin next week

The firm Clipper Logistics will manage a new supply channel to deliver personal protective equipment to NHS trusts and community healthcare partners, HSJ can reveal.

The supply channel will begin delivering pallets to trusts daily from today, according to an NHS Supply Chain document seen by HSJ.

Clipper is a major and long-standing retail logistics and supply chain firm, and according to its website it typically serves retailers selling fashion, tobacco, alcohol and other high-value goods. 

Royal Mail is also expected to ship core PPE items to community partners from next week. PPE stock was delivered to a central warehouse over the weekend.

The news comes after weeks of PPE shortages across England, including the centre being forced to call in the Army to assist last weekend. Trust procurement leads previously told HSJ of inadequate and unpredictable deliveries of face masks, visors, goggles and, most recently, gowns.

NHS SC, which procures common consumables and medical devices on behalf of trusts, has been shipping extra PPE from its own stockpiles and the national pandemic stockpile in recent weeks. But trust procurement leads continue to report critical shortages of certain items.

The military have been assisting with the delivery of PPE to trusts over the last week. HSJ has asked NHS Supply Chain, NHS England, Clipper and the Department of Health and Social Care to confirm whether the military will be involved in the new supply channel.

NHS SC logistics are currently managed by Unipart. HSJ has asked how and why Clipper was chosen for this task.

NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said on Twitter Sunday that the new supply system would allow NHS Supply Chain to focus on non-PPE supplies, which are also under pressure.

The NHS SC document stated NHS England would decide how stock is allocated among trusts, and that the number of coronavirus cases would be taken into consideration.

Community partners will be able to register on a new “eCommerce” shipping platform. Until next week, they are expected to contact the National Supply Disruption Response team to order PPE supplies.

Deputy chief medical officer Jenny Harries again insisted on Tuesday the UK “has always had sufficient [PPE] stock that it needs to date” against guidelines, which she said are “among best in the world”.

Addressing the government’s daily coronavirus briefing she did however apologise for earlier claiming the PPE distribution problem had been solved.

She said: “I stood here [at the daily briefing] about 10 days ago and said probably optimistically [that] we’ve solved the PPE position, so my apologies, because about 48 hours later our distribution issue had popped back in again.

“The distribution element has been a little bit tricky at times and now we have taken a whole strand of the logistics out so we’re now developing a UK position on that stock and distribution flow… The PPE should go where the critical clinical risk is.”