Council chiefs are set to spend up to £3 million on maintaining a 12-week supply of personal protective equipment until the end of the year.
Leaders at Staffordshire County Council say the authority needs its own PPE stockpile as deliveries from the Government have only been enough to meet a small fraction – five per cent or less – of local demand.
In addition to its own care staff, the authority is also providing emergency supplies to private care providers in Staffordshire, to ensure none run out of gloves, masks or aprons during the Covid-19 crisis.
So far, the council has delivered 383,084 items of PPE to providers, including 105,000 in the last week alone.
Cabinet members will today (Wednesday) authorise officers to continue procuring PPE, with the aim of maintaining a rolling 12-week supply for the rest of 2020 – or until local demand falls.
The council has already spent £1.3 million on PPE during the pandemic, and the total bill could rise to £3 million or more if demand continues at the current level.
Councillor Mark Deaville, cabinet member for commercial issues, said: “We know there is a global shortage of PPE and that’s why we have stepped into make sure no care provider in Staffordshire goes without the PPE it needs if it runs out.
“Our army of carer workers are doing an amazing job in extremely difficult times and we are determined to make sure they have what they need to protect themselves.
“We have supplied more than 700,000 pieces of equipment to Staffordshire’s care front-line already, and we are making sure that we have sufficient stock to maintain supplies.
“We are planning ahead to ensure we have sufficient supplies in stock until the current emergency is over.”
Care providers across the country have been facing PPE issues, including late deliveries, increased prices and refused orders.
Staffordshire’s local resilience forum (LRF) has so far received three ‘drops’ of PPE arranged by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, as part of a national scheme.
But according to the report to cabinet, the PPE provided by the MHCLG has not been anywhere near enough to meet demand.
The report states: “The PPE provided is relatively low in quantity once split across the partnership, and a fraction (less than four per cent) of what is needed to fully support the health and care sector for the Staffordshire LRF.
“The Government has plans to implement a PPE ordering service for local authorities and care homes, which was due to commence on the April 6. This was then delayed by four weeks and no confirmed date for launch has yet been announced. We are also informed that there will be lead-in times from order to delivery and these are not yet known.
“We have also not chosen to rely on LRF deliveries. Contact with MHCLG soon made it clear that these drops would not be enough, with notice of drops only coming at the last minute, with no understanding of provision until just before, or at, the point of delivery.
“For example, last week we indicated our 14-day requirements, but the LRF drop was only five per cent of what was requested.”
The county council has also chosen not to rely on a West Midlands joint procurement pool as it is ‘not responsive enough to manage the immediate demands’.
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