Two billion PPE items have been delivered to NHS and social care staff since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, the government has announced.
The government said 341 million masks, 313 million aprons, 4 million gowns and 1.1 billion gloves had been delivered to frontline staff with almost 28 billion items ordered to cover the coming months.
Matt Hancock, Health and Social Care Secretary, said: “It is thanks to the herculean effort from UK industry, the NHS and departmental teams, our diplomatic teams abroad, and the armed forces that we have now hit this impressive milestone.”
The PPE supply chain has been expanded from 226 NHS Trust to 58,000 settings, including care homes, hospices and community care organisations.
The government said this had been achieved through cross-government partnerships with UK suppliers and establishing new links with overseas companies.
More than 30 deals have been struck with companies, including the Royal Mint, Jaguar Land Rover and Honeywell, through the Make initiative to manufacture and deliver PPE in the UK.
The government is also working with over 175 new suppliers to deliver at the scale and pace the UK requires. Around 20% of all PPE will be manufactured in the UK by the end of the year.
The latest companies to join the national drive and sign new contracts are:
Medicom, a company based in Montreal, which will be providing hundreds of millions of respiratory and medical masks to the UK every year, once a UK facility is opened later this summer; and
Redwood, based in Wigan, which will be providing 379,000 gowns until November this year – around 75,800 a month – with the first delivery due this week.
Lord Paul Deighton, adviser to the Health and Social Care Secretary on PPE, said: “Responding to a massive spike in our requirements and a significant global supply shortage, we have in a matter of weeks scaled up our international procurement, our domestic manufacturing and our logistics and distribution capabilities so that we can deliver PPE to where it’s needed.
“We are now working to build the stock levels which will help to future-proof our health and care sectors for years to come.”
Kathryn Smith, Chief Executive of the Social Care Institute for Excellence, said: “It’s great news that this target has been reached. We have been one of many voices advocating the frequent supply of PPE and also of training on how to use it. There will be care and support providers who might still struggle to get supplies and no one can afford to be complacent. But it’s worth taking a step back today and celebrating this successful milestone. Clearly, at the moment COVID-19 isn’t going to be eradicated overnight; and so it’s vital that PPE supplies, along with regular testing, are constant in the months ahead.”