May 3 2020 – The Health Care Supply Association (HCSA) has noted the letter sent by the Department of Health and Social Care on 1 May 2020 to update on the distribution of critical supplies and offers the following response.
We fully support a more structured and collegiate approach to the sourcing of vital PPE and are pleased that a substantial effort has been mobilised across Government and in conjunction with NHS Supply Chain to create an effective approach to sourcing of both PPE and equipment. We know that this work is taking place against a backdrop of media spotlight and challenging international markets.
Local sourcing outside of the national system (encouraged by previous statements) has for most Trusts been the only way to ensure access to a satisfactory volume and range of PPE.
The HCSA believes that Trusts will always need the flexibility and contingency to source locally but this should reduce as confidence in the national system increases.
We request that existing Trust direct orders are honoured, and goods not impounded upon delivery into the UK. The National Stockwatch and AdviseInc systems will give stock visibility.
However, equitable supply and allocation of PPE will never be achieved under a Push model that requires substantial local re-working and we remain concerned with regard to the efficiency of Push and the efficacy of some products being supplied – both of which are creating additional local anxiety and added workload.
National equipment allocation measures are sensible in the current climate and should build upon the success that NHS Supply Chain has had in this area. We do though ask that consideration be given to the position of Trusts who have actively sourced equipment to meet the needs of local plans that may now have been stepped down.
Finally, we continue to commend the work of all our members at national and local level all of whom are giving of their best.
The past two months have been immensely challenging, and our members want to see real improvement in both the PPE and equipment supply system in order to provide the level of service that the NHS deserves. The key pre-requisites are leadership and communication – the HCSA is ready to play its part in achieving both.