Council staff were praised for working flexibly after switching from their day jobs to hand out more than a million items of personal protective equipment (PPE) in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The praise came from the deputy leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, John Allcock, who said that their response to handling PPE supplies was a “huge success story”.
It was one of the biggest challenges facing the council in April in the early days of the lockdown, Councillor Allcock said, adding: “The council had to set up robust storage and distribution arrangements plus establish our own supply chain of PPE within an extremely short span of time.
“This has only been possible as a result of the outstanding commitment from a number of services across the council and across the city, working together in a genuinely collaborative way.
“We have been able to meet the PPE needs of our staff. In addition, we continue to support organisations and individuals with caring responsibilities in the city who also struggle to procure their own PPE.”
The council’s PPE team had supported 100 internal services and 350 other organisations and individuals over the past three months, Councillor Allcock said, distributing 1.2million PPE items.
And since May the monthly bill for PPE had been reduced from £624,000 to £272,000 as the national supply “portal” started supplying gloves, masks and aprons to GPs and small care providers.
But a six-figure monthly bill looked like being an extra long-term cost, according to the council’s executive director for health and adult social care Rob Persey.
He told a “virtual” meeting of the council’s Policy and Resources Committee today (Thursday 9 July): “We are not through the covid crisis yet.”
Councillors asked Mr Persey to work with procurement staff to try to reduce PPE made from single-use plastics.
The call came from Green councillors Hannah Clare and Siriol Hugh-Jones who said that PPE was generating a significant increase in plastic waste.
Councillor Clare told the committee that she had found numerous discarded gloves and face masks during litter picks with her fellow Brunswick and Adelaide ward councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty.
The Greens also asked officials to work with other organisations and the local resilience forum to ensure that there were “robust” arrangements for the safe disposal of PPE.
The request won cross-party support.