Experimental statistics – PPE distributed for use by health and social care services

Register and reap the benefits

Become a member of the HCSA to gain access to a variety of support tools and services.

Join us

Winter Conference 2021 Countdown

HCSA Job Board

All the latest NHS procurement job opportunities

See the latest jobs..

These statistics show the latest number of personal protective equipment (PPE) items which have been distributed for use by health and social care services in England by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

In publishing these data, we aim to provide a regular summary for ministers, policy makers and external stakeholders on PPE items distributed. DHSC intends to release these statistics weekly while they remain relevant to the government’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Main points

In the 7 days to 12 July 2020, DHSC distributed over 118 million PPE items for use by health and social care services in England through the PPE Dedicated Supply Channel, NHS Supply Chain and other routes1.

Since 25 February 2020 DHSC has distributed over 2.3 billion PPE items for use by health and social care services in England in this manner. This includes 191 million items of PPE authorised for release to designated wholesalers for onward sale to primary and social care providers, community pharmacies and dentists, and 147 million items of PPE to local resilience forums.

This compares with 2.43 billion items distributed between 1 January and 31 December 2019, before NHS Supply Chain began distributing PPE in relation to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The current reporting system has been in place since 25 February. It’s estimated that between 1 January and 24 February 2020, approximately 326 million items of PPE were distributed. These data were collected before the current reporting system was in place, so data quality is uncertain. For further detail see table 2.

Table 1: number of PPE items distributed for use by health and social care services by item, England2 3

PPE item In the 7 days to 12 July 2020 Cumulative (25 February to 12 July 2020)
Aprons 14,929,000 353,057,000
Body bags 0 210,000
Cleaning equipment 0 81,730,000
Clinical waste bags 1,055,000 39,343,000
Clinical waste containers 0 75,000
Coveralls 32,000 314,000
Eye protectors 646,000 42,430,000
Face mask FFP2 147,000 6,444,000
Face mask FFP3 600,000 25,302,000
Face mask IIR 15,488,000 383,757,000
Face mask ‒ other 0 755,000
Face mask ‒ type II 50,000 5,561,000
Fit test kits 0 2,000
Fit test solutions 1,000 36,000
General purpose detergent 1,222,000 28,002,000
Gloves 82,185,000 1,347,278,000
Gowns 188,000 4,469,000
Hand hygiene 159,000 5,927,000
Paper towels 0 1,700,000
Swabs 1,324,000 18,862,000
Other items 0 361,000
Total 118,026,000 2,345,705,000

The data include all types of PPE, items that are critical for infection control4 and a small number of other fast-moving items5.

Unless specified, all items are counted individually6. For example, gloves are not counted as pairs and are delivered in boxes of 200 as single items. Clinical procedures may use 1, 2 or 4 gloves at a time.

Measuring the data

How the data were collected

The data are collected from management information provided by Supply Chain Coordination Limited (NHS Supply Chain) since 25 February 2020. DHSC receives these data daily from NHS Supply Chain which since April 2020 have been compiled by Clipper.

Since April 2020 all products are distributed by Clipper and stored in a central warehouse in Daventry before delivery. Prior to April 2020 some items were distributed from the NHS Supply Chain Regional Distribution Centres.

The data are reported by the date of delivery. This covers all PPE items delivered within a 24-hour window from 2am on the date in question to 2am the next day.

Items are sometimes recalled, such as when they are faulty or do not meet set criteria. The figures presented are a combination of the number of PPE items distributed minus those recalled and credits for stock that was processed through the system but unfulfilled. Consequently, some days have negative delivery of items. Some items which have been recalled may still feature in the data as they are yet to be removed.

The data are not a measure of PPE use as some items may not be used, while reusable items may be used multiple times.

The figures in this bulletin may differ from those previously quoted due to differences in start date and inclusion of items in the definition of PPE.


The data cover PPE distributed for use by health and social care services in England only.

The data include deliveries from the PPE Dedicated Supply Channel to organisations such as NHS trusts, National Supply Distribution Response, local resilience forums and wholesalers for onward distribution and use by health and social care providers. These organisations may also procure PPE through other routes, so these data do not constitute all PPE available to NHS trusts, social care and primary care providers.


These statistics have been put together by DHSC with advice from NHS Supply Chain and the Office for National Statistics on this approach.

More information on quality and how this publication adheres to the Code of Practice for Statistics is available in the statement of compliance.

Future development

DHSC intends to release these statistics weekly while they remain relevant to the government’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The timeline below provides an indication of key developments in DHSC’s understanding of these data.

Table 2: key dates in DHSC’s reporting of PPE deliveries data

Date range Developments in data understanding
1 January 2020 to 24 February 2020 Data on these deliveries were collected on an ad hoc basis. Data quality is uncertain.
25 February 2020 Introduction of the current reporting system for data on distributions of PPE.
25 February 2020 to June 2020 Regular and rigorous quality checks are implemented as understanding of the data grows. Timeliness of the data improves as frequency of updates increases to 7 days per week.
30 June 2020 Publication of DHSC’s first experimental statistics on distributions of PPE. High-level data is now well understood and is subject to regular and rigorous quality checks.
Future developments Depending on interest and demand, we will review the frequency of updates and consider releasing more detailed iterations of these experimental statistics.

Experimental statistics

Given the commitment of DHSC to be open and transparent with the public it serves, these data are being released as experimental statistics. DHSC has received requests for data on the distribution of PPE, such as Parliamentary questions, Freedom of Information requests and other queries.

These data are experimental statistics that are in the testing phase and not yet fully developed. These figures have not been used for statistical purposes before.

Find out more about experimental statistics from the Governmental Statistics Service (GSS)

For feedback and questions about the release, please contact statistics@dhsc.gov.uk.

  1. This figure includes a small proportion of items distributed to devolved administrations and crown dependencies who have also procured additional PPE independently of these routes. Data on PPE distributed in Wales has been published by the Welsh government
  2. All numbers in the tables and the text are rounded to the nearest thousand. Due to rounding, the table totals may not equal the sum of the columns. 
  3. Details of face mask types are as follows: FFP2 face masks have a minimum of 94% filtration percentage and a maximum of 8% leakage to the inside. FFP3 face masks have a minimum filtration of 99% and a maximum leakage of 2% to the inside. Type IIR face masks are medical face masks made up of a 4-ply construction and include a splash resistant layer to protect against blood and other bodily fluids. 
  4. Items that are critical for infection control include cleaning equipment, coveralls, detergents, hand hygiene products, paper towels and swabs. 
  5. Other items distributed at irregular intervals in small volumes include fast-moving items that have been requested such as surgical caps, overshoes and oximeters. These are not included in the COVID-19 PPE guidance
  6. Paper towels are counted in sleeves of 250 single sheets. 

Source: Gov.UK
Date: 14 July 2020