• Healthcare procurement body asks do-it-yourself shops for visors
  • Providers still faced with shortages and unpredictable deliveries
  • Central government insists enough stock is available, but admits there have been distribution issues in recent days

A healthcare supply trade body has asked DIY shops to donate personal protective equipment to NHS trusts amid intense supply chain pressures.

Last week, trust procurement leads described a “completely chaotic” response from central government and national procurement body NHS Supply Chain, as many providers reported problems receiving deliveries. The situation continued into the weekend, with some trusts reporting delayed deliveries of both PPE and “business as usual” stock.

The Health Care Supply Association tweeted: “If any DIY stores want to help at this time then donating supplies of visors and glasses will greatly help NHS staff.

“We have trusts who for various reasons are running short. Contact your local trust and ask for the Supplies or Procurement Department-thanks.”

Some providers have issued similar appeals online, with South London and Maudsley Foundation Trust appealing for soap sachets on Twitter on Friday.

When asked about the soap tweet specifically, NHS Supply Chain told HSJ it had removed demand management controls on PPE stock, and alcohol hand gels and hand wash solutions were available for order. A spokeswoman asked customers to order stock according to Public Health England’s usage guidance.

She added: “We will continue to monitor all orders to ensure that stocks are managed fairly for all of our customers.”

NHS chief operating officer Amanda Pritchard admitted on Tuesday there had been local distribution issues, but maintained enough PPE stock was available.

An HCSA spokesman told HSJ: “We are aware of the hard work taking place with respect to PPE — there are issues with respect to visors and goggles with an opportunity for alternative sources of supply. 

“We would support all our members in securing whatever safe and acceptable solution we can find to source PPE as national issues are resolved.

“HCSA members will do whatever they need to in support of the NHS.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman told HSJ central government was giving the NHS and the social care sector “everything they need to tackle this outbreak”.

He added central PPE stockpiles were available, and said: “We are working closely with industry, the NHS, social care providers and others in the supply chain to ensure these medical products are delivered to the frontline as quickly as possible, helping minimise any risks to patients and staff.”

An NHS Supply Chain spokeswoman said: “Towards the end of last week 2.6 million face masks and 10,000 hand sanitisers went to trusts in London and over the weekend supplies of FFP3 respirators were delivered to every NHS trust in England.”

“We’re working closely with our suppliers to manage stock levels of the identified key product lines outlined in Public Health England’s guidance. Many of these lines are stockpiled and available to flow in the system to mitigate any potential supply issues. We have stock on order from the UK and European countries in addition to suppliers based in the Far East to continue to secure a pipeline and replenish the stockpiles to help ensure the uninterrupted supply to the NHS”.

HSJ has approached NHS England for further comment.

Meanwhile, another trade body, the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, asked its members on Monday to support the delivery of supplies to the health service.

In a statement published Monday, chief executive Kevin Richardson noted NHS Supply Chain had made “an urgent request for [certain warehouse equipment operators] and forklift truck drivers to assist warehouse operations”.

He said the group was providing a service to match organisations with extra capacity with those in need of assistance.

Mr Richardson asked organisations facing operational shortages, passenger transport groups with availability and retired members who are not considered at “high risk” to contact the institute.