• Local shortages of PPE continue
  • Procurement teams particularly concerned over gowns
  • Trade body calls on suppliers to deliver any available stock to NHS Supply Chain

NHS procurement chiefs have again called for urgent action to address continuing problems around the supply of personal protective equipment despite assurances from system leaders the issues were being resolved.

Numerous trusts are facing shortages of disposable gowns — which are worn by front-line staff to prevent the spread of infectious diseases like covid-19 — with Health Care Supply Association saying it was receiving “increasing reports of real concern over gowns” on Twitter on Thursday evening.

A spokesman told HSJ: “We are immensely concerned by the supply position on gowns and call upon all suppliers or potential suppliers to come forward immediately if they have stock available to deliver now to NHS Supply Chain.

“This is a very challenging situation that HCSA members are supporting their trusts with at present in conjunction with NHS Supply Chain.”

NHS Supply Chain, which procures common consumables and medical devices for trusts, has come under fire in recent weeks with trusts facing shortages of critical PPE.

As well as gowns, trust procurement leads have told HSJ of shortages of masks, hand sanitiser, visors and fit testing solution, which is used to ensure face masks fit staff properly.

Last week, several procurement chiefs told HSJ their hospitals were receiving inadequate and unpredictable deliveries of PPE supplies. Trusts have been sourcing extra supplies to ensure stocks last, in some cases spending hundreds of thousands of pounds, while procurement staff have been working seven days a week to source products for front-line staff.

As of last weekend, the Army has been helping NHS Supply Chain deliver stock to hospitals. Millions more face masks have since been delivered to trusts, but some procurement leads are still reporting shortages of items, including reagents and swabs.

HSJ has approached NHS Supply Chain and the Department of Health and Social Care for comment.