Stock of gowns for healthcare staff improving says Devon NHS

Stocks of protective gowns for frontline NHS workers in Devon have improved since an appeal went out for urgent supplies.

Edward Oldfield www.devonlive.com 

An advertisement on behalf of the Devon NHS posted on Monday last week called for boiler suits, lab coats, painting coats, chemical suits or any type of disposable or washable overall with full-length sleeves.

But it is understood the appeal was a precautionary step at a time when there was heightened concern over a potential shortage of gowns in the middle of April, which has now eased.

None of the items listed in the advertisement have been issued to NHS staff.

Deputy chief nurse Vanessa Crossey QN, on behalf of the NHS in Devon, said: “Stocks of gowns have now significantly improved and some precautionary measures, designed to complement the national supply chain, were not needed.

“Devon’s position is no different to other areas, and health and care partners have put in place effective stock monitoring procedures and mutual aid systems to increase our resilience.”

The advertisement appeared on a procurement website on Monday, April 20, posted by Torbay Council on behalf of Devon NHS.

Torbay MP Kevin Foster said he has had regular briefings from local council and NHS leaders and was unaware of any urgent shortage of PPE supplies.

The MP said if there was an immediate problem he had offered to escalate the issue with the Department for Health to ensure enough supplies were available.

Any additional personal protective equipment sourced locally by the NHS is risk-assessed by experts.

Supplies of items of PPE equipment for the NHS and social care have been fluctuating due to increased demand.

More than 100 businesses and organisations in Devon have shared their own PPE kit with the NHS in recent weeks.

Volunteers are also working with the NHS in Devon to make extra items including scrubs, laundry bags, head bands and protective visors.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are working around the clock to ensure PPE is delivered as quickly as possible to those on the frontline during this global pandemic for as long as it is required.

“We have delivered over 1 billion items since the outbreak began, including to care homes, and there is a 24 hour NHS-run helpline where NHS and social care workers can call to report shortages in supply.”

A BBC investigation found the Government failed to buy some protective equipment to prepare for a pandemic. It reported there were no gowns, visors, swabs or body bags in the Government’s pandemic stockpile when Covid-19 reached the UK.

Some NHS staff told the Panorama programme broadcast on Monday night they were being put at risk because of the shortage of personal protective equipment.

The Government told the BBC it had taken the right steps and was doing everything it could to increase stocks.