Foreword from the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care
As we face the challenge of responding to Covid-19, protecting our health and social care workers and other frontline staff is a critical priority. Back in the spring, the pandemic created a huge challenge for countries across the world in ensuring appropriate provision and supply of PPE. From the outset of the pandemic, the Scottish Government has worked with our partners to ensure that at all times Scotland has had adequate stock of all forms of PPE supplies to meet the level of demand.
We acted quickly and decisively to expand and strengthen PPE supplies in a globally challenging market, working with NHS National Services Scotland's National Procurement (NSS National Procurement) and other partners to source PPE supplies. Brand new supply chains within Scotland have been created and there has been strong partnership working across the four UK nations. A number of Scottish firms offered their help and adapted production lines quickly towards the supply of PPE and materials used for PPE manufacture, and between March and August 2020 production was established in Scotland alongside wider UK manufacture. Over the winter period we expect that nearly half of all PPE supplied will be manufactured in Scotland. My sincere thanks are due to the businesses and workers who have made this adaptation possible.
NSS National Procurement has been at the forefront of building national stock resilience and has established Hubs that are supporting the whole social care sector with PPE where normal supply routes have had difficulties. They are also providing additional PPE support to unpaid carers and social care personal assistants. All hospitals have access to the PPE required, with much of it now made in Scotland. GPs, dentists, community pharmacists and optometrists are also being supplied with PPE. Scotland Excel and APUC (Advanced Procurement for Universities & Colleges) continue to support significant sectors, such as schools and higher education. In addition, the Scottish Government has supported many more users of PPE, such as funeral directors and those working in the voluntary sector, by giving them access to a central supplier for the first time.
We have made significant improvements to the supply and distribution of PPE within Scotland. Winter is nearly here, bringing with it the potential for multiple challenges, particularly given the recent rise in Covid-19 cases, so our winter planning for PPE supply is well underway. Our modelling work is helping us to understand the impact of different scenarios on PPE demand in the coming months for health and social care, so that we can ensure that users can get adequate supplies, whatever the challenges we encounter. Across all sectors, we are stressing the need for adequate contingency planning and a similar level of preparedness, and we stand ready to support and help as we move into this winter period.
This Action Plan has been developed based on what we know now about Covid-19, and our expected need for PPE in the next few months and beyond. My sincerest hope is that the measures we are taking – in due course joined, I hope, by a vaccine – will mean that we will not have such significant requirements for PPE in the longer term. However, for as long as we need it, this Action Plan will be updated and refreshed where necessary.
Staff across health and social care continue to work extremely hard in difficult circumstances to keep us safe. It is therefore vital that action continues to be taken to keep them as safe as possible. The right PPE being available when staff need it is one way in which the Scottish Government is doing that and will remain a key priority in the coming months.
Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care