Care England is lobbying the government for the extension of the provision of free PPE to the health and social care sector.
Responding to the Department of Health and Social Care’s consultation on the matter, the representative body said free PPE via a centralised mechanism had been an “enormous win and huge boost for providers” and warned that returning to a situation similar to March 2020, when there were huge challenges in accessing PPE, would be a “retrograde step” in the management of the ongoing pandemic.
Professor Martin Green (pictured), Chief Executive of Care England, said: “PPE is one of the main foundations in a care setting to limiting the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. As the Government has made clear, the vaccine is not a silver bullet.
“The care sector must remain astute by maintaining high levels of infection prevention and control. PPE plays a huge role in this. The continuation of free PPE will continue to help better protect some of society’s most vulnerable.”
He added: “Standing down the supply of free PPE may put the adult social care sector at risk of being ill prepared to cope with new outbreaks and rises in infection levels. Naturally, providers could purchase PPE from their own suppliers or wholesalers, however, this is on the assumption that the PPE is being procured in the UK and providers can access the quantity and type of PPE required on short notice.
“Further, the requirement for providers to re-establish their PPE procurement and logistics network would have the added impact of diverting their teams from other important activities.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Supporting our frontline health and care staff is our utmost priority and we have delivered more than 14.9 billion items of PPE to protect them during the pandemic. We have a sufficient stock of PPE to continue to support providers into 2022.
“We launched a consultation to gather views on this from a broad range of stakeholders across the health and care system. This has now closed and we will publish our response in due course.”