NHS Supply Chain cancels non-PPE orders to tackle shortage

23 March 2020

NHS Supply Chain is prioritising personal protective equipment (PPE) orders for customers in order to meet demand due to the Covid-19 outbreak. 

Rachel Repper, NHS procurement and commercial consultant, said non-PPE orders made by organisations from Thursday 19 March would be cancelled.

Non-PPE orders that have not already been picked at NHS Supply Chain’s depots in Alfreton, Runcorn, Maidstone and Bury will be affected as the depots clear down a backlog of orders, Repper explained. 

“This is a step the operations team has not taken lightly and they fully understand the impact on customers that have got non-PPE stock orders that were placed on Thursday 19 March. 

“It has been taken as a step to try and clear down the backlog. We are running three shifts late in these depots and we need to get those shifts running back as per normal. This is the best of a series of bad options,” Repper said. 

Non-PPE orders that are cancelled will require customers to place a new order. The action involves orders between Thursday 19 March and Monday 23 March. 

Meanwhile, H&M has announced it will utilise its supply chain capacity to produce protective equipment for hospitals.

The firm said it would use “its widespread purchasing operations and logistics capabilities” around the world to support efforts to produce PPE for healthcare workers.

H&M’s CEO Helena Helmersson has reached out to the EU to understand the needs and to offer the company’s help, the brand said.  

This comes as health secretary Matt Hancock acknowledged there had been “challenges” in ensuring the supply of PPE to NHS staff but said deliveries had been made over the weekend. 

He also told BBC Radio the NHS now has access to 12,000 ventilators to help it prepare for rising cases of the virus in the UK.  

“We started with 5,000 so we’ve been buying ventilators and we’ve also been engaged with companies who are going to turn their production over to ventilators,” he said.

Last week, Hancock called on engineering firms in the UK to divert production lines to produce essential medical equipment. 

Seperately, the government announced it is temporarily suspending rail franchise agreements as part of measures to support train firms as passenger rates dropped by 70%.

The agreements will see a temporary suspension of existing franchise agreement’s financial mechanisms for an initial period of six months. Operators will continue to run day-to-day services for a small, pre-determined management fee.

“These agreements will suspend the normal financial mechanisms of franchise agreements, transferring all revenue and cost risk to the government,” said transport secretary Grant Shapps.

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