The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has raised its concerns over reported shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the current Covid-19 pandemic.
The MPs have also asked the government to produce a plan on how it intends to procure a predictable supply of stock of PPE by September, ahead of any second Covid-19 wave.
In a report published earlier this week, the PAC has warned “the government does not have either a clear understanding of the equipment needed for clinical and care workers, or how to distribute it – particularly in the more fragmented care sector.”
“Within two months of this report the Committee expects the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) to clarify its governance arrangements and outline when it expects to have a predictable supply of stock and ready access to PPE supply within the NHS and care sectors,” PAC has said.
This should include detail on the roles and responsibilities for the procurement and distribution of PPE across NHS and social care settings, it added.
A snapshot survey of pharmacists by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in April showed that 34 per cent of the respondents weren’t able to source continuous supplies of PPE to protect themselves from potential infection by the public or colleagues at work.
The Committee has further noted that the NHS now needs a coherent plan for how it will function after the peak of the Covid-19 crisis.
“The crisis cannot be used as an excuse not to address long-standing issues, highlighted in previous PAC reports, such as workforce shortages, coherent and aligned capital investment strategies, and tackling trust deficits,” it cautioned.
As part of the preparation for Covid-19 “to protect the NHS and save lives” the government provided significant additional funding to the NHS, including writing off £13.4 billion of loans.
Writing off loans and funding for specific staffing and other support, do not address the underlying issues of the NHS financial sustainability, PAC noted.