The must-read stories and debate in health policy and leadership.

It will come as no surprise to HSJ readers that demand for personal protective equipment will rise as the government’s lockdown measures are eased. Dentistry, education and more inpatient GP appointments will all increase demand for masks, gloves and eye protection.

Demand for certain items of PPE such as sterile gowns will also rise as elective surgeries resume. And, if levels of covid-19 spike, it seems these procedures may have to stop, again, at least in part because of a lack of protective kit.

The centre has moved forward with PPE, shoring up more domestic supply, bringing in trust procurement directors and implementing a PPE tracking system. But all of these moves have faced sharp criticism, with local teams saying national leaders have slowed down their deals, that consulting firms have got in the way and that the centre’s tracking technology is extra work for little obvious benefit on the ground.

In a still intensely pressured environment, it’s unlikely these moves from the centre will offer much comfort to procurement teams facing demand projections like these.

Registering alarm

Exclusive data from the Nursing and Midwifery Council has set out quite how dramatic the drop in overseas nurses has been since the covid-19 pandemic hit. Over 1,300 joined the register in March, but this fell to just 35 in April.

This follows warnings last month from senior sources that the pressure on international recruitment would scupper the government’s ambitious 50k more nurses pledge.

Interestingly, the data has also shown the temporary register saw just over 2,000 overseas staff joining in April, all of whom were already in the country but just hadn’t completed their all important final OSCE exam.

At present it is unclear how long these nurses will remain on the temporary rota and if restrictions will be relaxed to enable them to continue working in the NHS permanently.