Update on PPE

In Plenary this week, the Health Minister Vaughan Gething AM provided an update to AMs on PPE. This continues to be a concern for people and we are all too actutely aware of some of the horror stories that have been circulating.

Below is his response to Members in full:

“We are continuing to maintain supply of PPE to front line health and social care workers, and are working on a Wales and UK basis to secure robust supply arrangements going forward.

“As of last week, we had issued more than 16.2 million items of PPE to the NHS and local authorities from the pandemic stores. This pandemic stock forms part of 48.3 million PPE items issued to healthcare staff in Wales since 9 March. Supplies have been distributed to hospitals, GP surgeries, the Welsh Ambulance Service, pharmacies and to all local authorities to be sent to social care settings throughout Wales.

“I want to recognise the significant work that has been undertaken to establish new structures to deliver PPE from our national supplies to all our vital services; including to our independent providers. I’d like to extend my thanks to all involved; our health and Local Authority partners, our social care providers and local resilience forum coordinators.

“In any operation of this scale there will be times when things don’t work as we would like. I am acutely conscious of the stress and anxiety felt by front line staff if they are unsure if vital equipment will be available when they need it. Trades Unions have been key in identifying these issues in real time at workplace level allowing employers to respond quickly to shortages and enabling us to improve and refine the process.

“The worldwide demand for PPE is creating an insecure and unpredictable market. The recent example of the delay in the arrival of an order from Turkey has put this firmly in the public domain. Some countries have taken the decision to stop export of PPE supplies and other supply routes have experienced significant delays.

We are taking a multi-faceted approach to ensuring the required ongoing supply of PPE in Wales. This includes:

• working with other home nations across the UK to pool our procurement efforts and bring in vital new stocks,
• our usual Welsh arrangements,
• procurement of additional PPE supplies using the National Procurement Service, and
• working with Welsh businesses to produce PPE in Wales.

“In addition to working jointly with England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, we are also actively mobilising industry in Wales to supplement this UK supply route through innovation and new manufacturing routes.

“The First Minister recently called on Welsh businesses and manufacturers to help produce a Welsh supply of PPE to support our frontline health and social care staff. The Life Sciences Hub Wales is working with Welsh industry to develop these ideas. Our approach is intended to maximise all the opportunities available to us, recognising the scale of the demand and the challenging global market which we are operating in.

“We have had a tremendous response from Welsh companies to date. In North Wales we have Brodwaith on Anglesey making 2k scrubs a months, we also have Worksafe Workwear in Ruthin and they are producing 2.4k scrubs a month. One of these companies used to make pyjamas and the other used to make bags. They have both adapted their processes in a matter of weeks to producing Scrubs.

2The Royal Mint and the Rototherm Group are making face visors and shields to be worn by healthcare staff. The gin distillery, In The Welsh Wind, is making World Health Organisation-approved hand sanitiser. We have been struck by the level of innovation and support offered from all parts of Wales.

“The demand for PPE will continue to be well above normal for the foreseeable future. The actions we are taking in Wales are all directed at ensuring continued supply of PPE for the staff who need it to continue to undertake their work safely.

“It is also important that guidelines are followed properly and that PPE is used in accordance with the current guidance.”