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Shropshire Council says PPE stock meets demand despite "red" and "amber" warnings

Since the pandemic took hold, Shropshire Council has distributed over 400,000 items of personal protective equipment to the county’s hospitals, GPs, care providers, hospices and funeral directors.

A leaked briefing to Cabinet members and party group leaders last week revealed that stocks of masks were currently rated ‘amber’ and aprons ‘red’, with supplies running “very low”.

The council has now reassured service providers and members of the public that its system of monitoring PPE demand and supply is working well and that stock is not expected to run out.

A spokesperson for the authority said: “We appreciate the challenges providers may have experienced in obtaining PPE supplies over recent weeks.

“An increase in demand for both PPE and non-PPE products has put the supply chain to deliver such products under significant pressure. This is demand is reflected in the ongoing status reports we produce to help monitor and respond to supply and demand.

“Whilst our current status is red and amber on some items, this is constantly under review and stocks are replenished according to the red and amber status.

“We give our PPE supplies a rating based on a number of factors. This includes reliability of supply chain, volume and type of supplies available and anticipated level of demand now and moving forward.

“We do have enough stocks to meet demand at this current time, however, using these criteria we have rated our PPE as amber as we anticipate an increase in demand to meet Government and Public Health England guidelines and supply routes nationally, need to be regularised further.”

PPE stock is delivered to the authority via several routes including through the regional Local Resilience Forum and purchasing from suppliers, with £200,000 spent so far.

Donations of more than 30,000 gloves and 8,000 other items have also been received, which the council said it was “extremely grateful” for.

A centralised system for co-ordinating PPE across the social care and health sector has been developed to make it easier to see what stock is held by local authorities and health trusts and what might be needed.

A dedicated helpline and website have been set up to allow health and care sector providers to request emergency PPE supplies.

Councillor Dean Carroll, portfolio holder for adult social care and public health, said: “I would like to sincerely thank all those involved in the co-ordination and delivery of essential PPE equipment.

“There has been a huge amount of work being undertaken across Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin over the past few weeks on an unprecedented scale.  In addition, the tremendous support and collaboration we have seen from colleagues, communities, organisations across the county has been extraordinary.

“We also greatly appreciate the generous response and the offers of help we’ve received and want to thank the many people and groups who have offered support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have been overwhelmed by the amount of support we are receiving from our local community.

“We’ve already received offers of support in the form of handmade scrubs, uniform bags, knitted hearts, lip balm, toiletries, mask bands, posters, cards and volunteers.

“But more than that, we’ve seen our community reaching out to us and wanting to help in any way they can. This kindness means a great deal to all of us.”

Businesses wishing to supply PPE are asked to email sath.procurementequipcovid@nhs.net. It is hoped this will soon be rolled out to other organisations and individuals.

Before getting in touch, suppliers are asked to check their PPE meets the necessary safety and quality standards by reading the government’s guidance on technical specifications for PPE.

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