Health Minister Robin Swann today visited the main distribution centre for Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for frontline health and social care workers.
The Belfast visit came on the day the first batch of a fresh order from the NHS was delivered to Northern Ireland.
The order will comprise some 5.5 million items in total. Today’s batch includes 1,320,000 aprons and 307,800 FFP3 respirator masks. This morning’s delivery comprises around 50% of the aprons from the NHS consignment and some 40% of the FFP3 masks. The remainder is expected early this week.
The Minister visited the Boucher Road warehouse of the Procurement and Logistics Service, which is part of the HSC’s Business Services Organisation.
He said: “The extra 5.5 million items of PPE for Northern Ireland is very welcome news for our frontline staff. The first part of this shipment arrived this morning.
“I want to make clear that we have sufficient PPE supply for current demand and will continue to actively model projected demand.
“We are working extremely hard to secure more supplies, given anticipated future demand and the likelihood of a second surge later in the year.
“As I have stated, there’s not a country in the world that can definitively say it has enough PPE in stock, given the global uncertainty about the path this virus will take.
“We are continuing to proactively pursue all feasible PPE supply routes, both international and local. I can confirm that further supply is being sourced from the local economy.”
The Minister again acknowledged staff concerns on PPE, stressing: “I recognise that it’s not enough for me to simply say our stocks are significant or sufficient for current pressures.
“We need to make sure our distribution and deployment to all frontline settings is the best it can be – and that all staff know where to turn within their organisations when they have concerns or questions.
“Frontline settings include hospitals, ambulance crews, primary care Covid centres, care homes, domiciliary care workers and other parts of the system where staff are working flat out to care for people.”
Newly updated UK-wide NHS PPE guidance has been issued in recent days, providing detailed guidelines on the types of PPE required for different clinical settings.
The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, Royal College of Nursing and Royal College of Midwives were involved in developing the guidance.