The business leader brought in by the government to sort out shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health and care workers in England has told the BBC that “crisis management” was required during and immediately after the peak of coronavirus cases.
Lord Paul Deighton said that supplies were now stable and had been secured for the rest of the year.
There are 28 billion items on order, he says.
He took on the role in late April.
In an exclusive interview with BBC News, he said “the early period was one of crisis management…We had long meetings every morning and evening trying to make sure we had precisely the kit coming in that was needed on the frontline next day and that’s not a circumstance you want to find yourself in”.
He acknowledged that there had been a “big problem” with staff feeling unsafe going into work because of fears that PPE would run out.
And he said the driving purpose had been to “reduce that anxiety so people could go to work and save lives, not worry about whether they are going to get a mask or a pair of gloves”.
The Department of Health and Social Care has said 2 billion items of PPE have been delivered to NHS and social care workers in England since February including:
341 million masks
313 million aprons
4 million gowns
1.1 billion gloves (supplied and counted individually rather than as pairs)
Data on demand and usage of PPE is hard to get hold of.
BBC analysis in April suggested that hospitals in England were using between 10 and 16 million items a day. A trust in Lincolnshire with three main hospital sites said it got through about 73,000 items a day.