New PPE shortage looms as outpatient appointments and operations restart

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Mark Roscrow, the chairman of the Health Care Supply Association (HCSA) said Public Health England must issue new guidelines to help to predict the amount of PPE that will be needed once hospitals resume routine work with social distancing in place. The intervention comes after NHS England told hospitals to restart routine surgery and procedures.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “The safety of our staff is paramount and we will continue to take an evidence-based approach for the use of PPE.

Public Health England has already laid out guidance for PPE in different settings and we are working around the clock to increase stock and ensure PPE is delivered as quickly as possible to where it is needed on the frontline.”

But the HCSA’s warning follows calls by hospitals and health unions for the Government to ensure an adequate supply of PPE before such work is resumed: “We’re going to have to get PPE and testing into a place from where they currently are to restart. We’re asking trusts to deal with all of this alongside testing a stream of COVID patients while retaining a surge capacity.”

Mr Roscrow told The Sunday Telegraph: “We’re in a lull a bit for COVID, so as the numbers are coming down and in a much more stable position, and therefore there are conversations about starting to turn services back at the various level, there is a big concern about the impact of that on PPE.”

“What we’re not clear on is the volume of PPE that’s going to go into this. The change is likely to create sudden spikes in demand in some areas of the country, as services are resumed, and the need for more significant volumes of some types of PPE,” Mr Roscrow added.

The current guidance on PPE recommends only that possible or confirmed COVID-19 patients should wear a surgical mask, to minimise the risk that they could infect others.

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