Huge increase in UK Personal Protective Equipment production

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  • Large stockpiles in place for items such as face masks, visors and gowns
  • Almost three quarters of expected demand for PPE to be met by UK manufacturers from December

Health and social care workers treating COVID-19 patients have access to an uninterrupted supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), the Government has confirmed today.

Four-month stockpiles of items such as face masks, visors and gowns will be in place from November to provide a continuous flow to the frontline, helping to ensure staff always have the equipment they need. Overall, 32 billion items have now been purchased.

Thanks to the unprecedented domestic production of PPE, for items such gowns and FFP3 facemasks, 70 per cent of the expected demand for PPE will be met by UK manufacturers from December. Businesses have been supporting the national effort by creating hundreds of new jobs and reducing reliance on overseas companies. Before the pandemic, just 1 per cent of PPE was produced in the UK.

The Government has today published a new PPE strategy setting out a data-driven approach to building further resilience in the supply chain to respond to rising rates of coronavirus infection

Health and Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:

At the start of the pandemic, meeting the huge demands for PPE was a massive challenge.

That’s why we have worked every day since to ensure we have an uninterrupted supply to meet the challenges in the coming months and protect those who are protecting us.

We have built robust and resilient supply chains from scratch and thanks to an absolutely phenomenal effort from UK businesses, almost three quarters of demand for PPE will soon be met by UK manufacturers.

As we take every step to combat this virus we are setting out this plan to reassure our health and social care workers that they will have the PPE they need to carry out their tireless work.

Since February 2020, over 3.5 billion PPE items have been distributed to the frontline, including GPs, social care providers, community pharmacists, dentists and hospices.

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Amid unparalleled demand, the average number of items of PPE distributed increased considerably. For example:

  • During the peak of the pandemic from 20 April to 26 April, 102 million items of PPE were delivered. 121 million items were delivered between 14 and 20 September now we have more resilient supply chains;
  • The normal supply chain for PPE was designed to accommodate delivery to 226 NHS Trusts, but essential supplies are now being sent to 58,000 different settings after a new distribution network was built from scratch.
  • We have rapidly processed over 23,000 cases from over 15,000 suppliers to ensure they meet the safety and quality standards that our NHS staff need, as well as prioritising offers of larger volumes. We have actively engaged with over 99% of the companies that have offered PPE. We now have sufficient contracted supplies for our foreseeable demand in all product areas.
  • We announced free PPE to support care homes as part of our new Adult Social Care Winter Plan.
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More than 300 deals have been struck to provide PPE. We have been working with many household names including the Royal Mint, Royal Mail, eBay. Through the ‘Make’ initiative we are working with companies like Honeywell to manufacture and deliver PPE at scale and pace, levelling up jobs and skills across the country, reducing our reliance on overseas manufacturers and lowering our carbon footprint.

Lord Deighton, the government’s advisor on PPE who previously led the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, was also appointed to oversee supply and ramp up manufacturing of PPE from UK-based companies.

Lord Paul Deighton, adviser to the Health Secretary on PPE, said:

COVID-19 has presented many challenges and none more critical than ensuring the right PPE equipment is available at the right time to protect frontline health and social care staff.

We have brought together a team that unites our procurement expertise and have overhauled the distribution network to rely less on overseas imports and more on our excellent businesses at home to ensure there is a reliable supply over the years to come.

It has been an extraordinary effort by so many to get to this point but we will not lose our focus – the PPE strategy outlines how we are building further resilience in order to be ready for a new wave of infections in the autumn, winter or beyond.

Further information

  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Strategy: Stabilise and build resilience
  • For case studies of individual businesses taking part in the MAKE initiative, visit:
    • https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-uk-deals-will-bring-millions-more-ppe-items-to-frontline-healthcare-staff
    • https://www.gov.uk/government/news/major-milestone-hit-as-2-billion-items-of-ppe-delivered
    • https://www.gov.uk/government/news/millions-more-items-of-ppe-for-frontline-staff-from-new-business-partnerships
  • From the beginning of the outbreak, the government has worked tirelessly to find new ways of getting more PPE to staff across the health and care system as quickly as possible.
  • In April, the government launched the PPE action plan, setting out clear, decisive actions on securing enough PPE to last through the crisis and ensuring those who need PPE can get the right type at the right time. The temporary team rapidly mobilised by Lord Deighton to source UK manufactured PPE included many senior executives from the private sector, many of whom were involved in the delivery of London 2012.
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