Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has highlighted how Greater Manchester’s decision to set up a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) taskforce to deal with direct procurement has helped ensure frontline services have vital supplies.
Asked by Adam Boulton on Sky News if having an integrated health and social care system in Greater Manchester means both the clinicians in hospitals and the people in care homes have the PPE they need, Andy Burnham said:
“We are the only place with a devolved healthcare system. It is very integrated with strong relationships between hospitals and social care and local authorities. We are running a mutual aid system, where if hospitals have a bit of excess we are then bringing that into social care – it is a really positive way of working and it is because of the way Greater Manchester has been built over the years, the relationships are there to allow us to work in that way.”
PPE is being shared amongst services across Greater Manchester between NHS, social care, Greater Manchester Police and others where there is need. Any PPE provided by the NHS to other frontline services to deal with immediate shortages is replaced.
The Mayor also revealed that Greater Manchester has established a central procurement system for PPE with direct procurement in national and international markets.This has meant that Greater Manchester is better able to fill in gaps in PPE stock to meet their needs than if they just relied on national pandemic stock.
The Mayor has already raised his concerns about the precarious supply of PPE for social care using the national delivery system where last week only one-tenth of the stock of masks ordered was received.
PPE stock in Greater Manchester remains highly dependent on pandemic stock supplies for core services. However, while the city-region’s focus has been on meeting the needs of services not covered by national supplies, it has also had to fill gaps due to the shortages of national stock which in turn risks other parts of the system going short.
Without the city-region’s own supply chain there are places in Greater Manchester which would have run out at the end of last week.
So far Greater Manchester has received 3.6m items of PPE from the national pandemic stock and has ordered 14.5m items through direct procurement – 3.1m already delivered with 7.5m due to arrive within the next seven days.
This has not been without its challenges too, for example, half a million surgical face masks have been held up at Heathrow Airport customs since last Thursday.
Andy Burnham told Sky News: “We have a consignment we bought ourselves sitting at Heathrow airport since Thursday, bogged down by bureaucracy. It’s things like this that need to get unlocked much more quickly because we are doing our best. We are working constructively with Government but there does need to be more coordination between the national and local levels.”
Through its PPE taskforce made up of partners from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), MIDAS (Manchester’s inward investment agency with international business contacts), Growth Company, Health and Social Care Partnership and local authorities, they have been coordinating how much PPE stock each frontline service needs and what type of stock to put in orders on the open market.
Each frontline service has a particular specification of PPE that’s suitable for their line of work and the taskforce has been ordering it in bulk, with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service premises being used as a delivery drop-off point.
Through this coordination at city-region level and working as one system, the taskforce has been able to share supplies amongst services in Greater Manchester through mutual aid to help those in greatest need on a day-to-day basis. The taskforce is continually reviewing who needs what to address peak moments of demand and stock is regularly moved around in response to this.
For example, Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Trust recently secured PPE through mutual aid from Wigan Council, Wigan and Leigh College, Winstanley College, GMP and Stockport Council, as well as from wet wipe manufacturer, Nice-Pak International.
In addition to this, the Greater Manchester NHS procurement team has also secured an additional 3 million items of PPE, which is aiding the overall system and is working in an entirely integrated way with the PPE taskforce and Local Resilience Forum, demonstrating the benefit of the devolved system and the way that the city-region works collaboratively.
Individual local authority procurement teams are also doing their best to procure these items for their own areas.
There have also been a number of donations made from members of the public and businesses, including 30,000 masks from Chinese Community,15,000 masks and 20,000 bottles of hand sanitiser from Didsbury Gin,350 coveralls from the owner of an asbestos removal business in Bury
41 x 5ltr bottles of hand sanitiser from Zymurgorium Ltd, a distillery in Tameside, direct to the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.
The Hut Group has paid for freight on Greater Manchester NHS orders from China
As well as this some more local manufacturers have diversified production and are making PPE including Tibard Ltd, based in Droylsden who delivered 500 scrubs on Friday. Other manufacturers have diversified to produce visors.
Andy Burnham said: “I’m proud of how our partners across Greater Manchester have come together to work in a coordinated way to make sure our frontline services have the vital PPE they need to do their jobs and I thank them for their Herculean efforts.
“We continue to order stock through the national supply system and the open market and through our system of mutual aid across the city-region, it allows us to be fleet-footed and move stock into places where there are pinch points. This shows how Greater Manchester is working together for the better.”