Health and care chiefs are confident that they will have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies if there is a second wave of the covid-19 coronavirus.
The claim came after one senior official said that, in the early stages of the pandemic, they faced a spell of trying to play “catch up” with demand.
This was exacerbated as Brighton and Hove City Council was supplying equipment to its own staff and services as well as to others such in the area as private care homes.
Green councillor Sarah Nield asked about PPE supplies when the council’s Health and Wellbeing Board held a “virtual” meeting yesterday (Tuesday 9 June).
Councillor Nield said that she was concerned that the government’s Clipper system for distributing PPE to care homes across the country was not properly up and running.
She said: “Throughout the pandemic the government’s promised Clipper system for distributing PPE has remained a mirage, always seeming to be on the horizon but never quite arriving.
“We are relying on emergency drops through the local resilience forum and the amazing work of redeployed council staff to get our PPE to where it’s needed.”
The council’s executive director for health and adult social care, Rob Persey, said that the Clipper service had now started, with care homes still signing up.
The service is open to smaller care homes with fewer than 25 beds and domestic care services with fewer than 90 clients.
Mr Persey said that the council was now in a good position itself after “playing catch up” early on.
He said: “We are putting in significant orders in advance. Initially, we were playing catch up. We were trying to order the equipment we needed to keep us going in a hand to mouth way.
“Now we have procurement chains in place – supply chains that allow us to have a good stock.”
As a result, the council had moved its PPE stores from Hove Town Hall to the Brighton Centre where there was more room for equipment and to enable social distancing.
If supplies were low, Mr Persey said, the council could still draw on the Sussex Resilience Forum.
The council was also prepared to use PPE over the long term as part of the “new normal” to prevent further infections until treatments or vaccines were found for covid-19.
Conservative councillor Samer Bagaeen asked what PPE was being supplied to schools.
The council’s interim executive director for families, children and learning, Deb Austin, said that the government had said that there was no specific PPE required other than sanitiser for hand-washing.
All schools in the city have a “starter pack”, with a small supply of face masks, gloves and aprons. These are kept in case a child has coronavirus symptoms at school and needs support while waiting for a parent or carer to collect them.
Schools can ask to use the council’s PPE stocks or contact the Sussex Resilience Forum if they are unable to secure supplies themselves.
She said: “We do know schools have experienced difficulties and found getting in initial supplies very expensive.
“It was on that basis the decision was made to support them with a starter pack. When children return for a wider opening, schools will have PPE in place.”