The government has asked to “make more, use less” personal protective equipment (PPE) during the coronavirus outbreak, and announced a new online portal for NHS workers to order items.
During a press briefing on Friday, health secretary Matt Hancock said there was now enough PPE if supplies are used correctly - but said there was “clearly a huge task ahead to keep it flowing”.
Since the start of the outbreak more than 742 million pieces of PPE have been delivered to the frontline, “including 161 million masks, 127 million aprons, a million gowns and 345 million pairs of gloves".
The health secretary announced a new centralised online system will enable the Government to track PPE demand in real time and will be rolled out in the next three weeks.
Hancock said every NHS hospital has received a delivery of critical PPE once every 72 hours, which will be made daily over the next week.
He said: “Over the next three weeks we’re rolling out an online portal, allowing primary care and social care a system so that they can request from a central inventory, and this will mean that we can track demand in real time, and deliver according to need.
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“This Herculean effort of enormous operational complexity, to get the right piece of equipment to the right person at the right moment – I pay tribute to the enormous efforts of all those who are making it happen."
Hancock also thanked companies who had helped with the manufacturing of PPE - and asked for more to pledge their support.
He continued: “Many businesses have generously come forward to turn over production lines as part of this national effort.
“In particular, I want to thank Burberry with their offers of gowns, Rolls Royce and McLaren who are creating visors. We are talking to many others and we want more to step up to the plate.
“So if you have production facilities and you can meet our published technical specifications, we want to hear from you, so we can make this kit here in Britain.”
Mr Hancock said his goal is that “everyone” working in a critical role must get the personal protective equipment that they need.
He said there is a “huge international demand” for PPE and a “global squeeze” on supply.