PPE supply problems remain despite national efforts
Social care providers still can’t get adequate supplies of vital personal protective equipment through Local Resilience Forums (LRFs) that were mobilised by the Government as part of its response to Coronavirus.
It’s deeply worrying that such problems persist at this key stage, particularly with easing of lockdown measures widely trailed, and with such slow progress being made in suppressing spread of this deadly virus.
Leonard Cheshire is the UK’s largest charity provider of social care, supporting around 3,000 people at 120 residential services.
It says many Forums can at best supply a maximum of 72 hours’ worth of equipment. Other Forums appear to have even less stock at their disposal or have run out entirely.
One council told the charity that they are so low on supplies they may have to close some care homes.
There are 38 LRFs in England which are made up of emergency services, a range of government agencies, health bodies and local authorities.
LRFs plan for major emergencies to reduce or prevent the impact on communities in their area.
The continued problems with PPE supply emerge at a time of huge demand for the life-saving masks, gowns, gloves and aprons across the health and social care sector as a result of COVID-19.
Leonard Cheshire understands all councils provided the government with estimates of stock required so they had enough PPE for essential services in their area, such as GP clinics and care homes.
Leonard Cheshire is spending around £400,000 per month on PPE, including needing 50,000 masks a week. It recently launched a fundraising appeal to ask the public to help it meet these unprecedented costs.
Support from their own supply chain, smaller suppliers and firms adapting to PPE production means it now has adequate supplies of most items for several weeks. This has only been achieved after a mammoth effort by the charity.
Neil Heslop, CEO of Leonard Cheshire, said:
“Despite claims by Ministers that supply chain issues are almost resolved, this is not what organisations at the frontline are experiencing on the ground. The government must get a firm grip on this. Sadly, much of the rhetoric we are hearing is not matched by the reality.
“PPE is only being provided by Local Resilience Forums in relatively small volumes and in some cases supplies appear exhausted.
"It’s deeply worrying that such problems persist at this key stage, particularly with easing of lockdown measures widely trailed, and with such slow progress being made in suppressing spread of this deadly virus.
"Frontline teams are delivering for vulnerable people every day in very difficult circumstances, they deserve better.”
Protect our carers with PPE
We are doing all we can to stop the spread of coronavirus, save lives and keep people safe. More equipment to protect our carers is urgently needed.