• Examination gloves have been taken over by new covid-19 specific supply channel
  • But trusts now have to redistribute central deliveries across hundreds of locations, procurement leads warn
  • Gloves are also used widely in non-covid-19 scenarios

Trusts can no longer order examination gloves for specific locations, causing “major” logistical problems.

Instead gloves are being shipped in bulk to central locations as part of a new covid-19-specific supply channel.

Senior procurement leads told HSJ this delivery method is inappropriate for examination gloves, which are used widely across health and social care settings, including for reasons unrelated to covid-19.

The move will cause “major problems” for trusts who normally receive the commonly-used products at numerous requisition points, sources warned. Trusts will now have to redistribute the gloves themselves, they explained.

Larger trusts may have hundreds of departments and outlying clinics across multiple sites. One procurement source said this presented a particular problem for trusts supplying community services.

NHS Supply Chain, which buys common consumables and medical devices on behalf of trusts, stopped accepting new orders for examination glove on Wednesday, with the new bulk deliveries starting on Thursday.

The procurement body made the move “to protect stockholding” in the face of greater demand than had been predicted, according to its website

The new supply channel, operated by retail logistics firm Clipper with support from the military, was launched in March to help improve the distribution of covid-19 related goods like personal protective equipment and swabs, following weeks of supply problems.

However, trusts continue to reports serious shortages of crucial products, including disposable gowns.

An NHS Supply chain spokeswoman told HSJ: “As of Thursday 16 April key high volume examination gloves including all NCP 6N gloves are now being delivered by the Dedicated PPE Channel, to maintain continuity of supply. All other gloves remain available to order through NHS Supply Chain but we are carefully monitoring our stock levels.”