It was reported this week that Essex County Council (ECC) is setting up a dedicated team to purchase PPE and oversee the logistics required to provide PPE to services until March 2022.
ECC forecasts that the need for PPE will increase as services reopen and is one of many councils facing the challenge of getting services up and running safely.
Councils across the UK should consider emulating this model for the following reasons:
- 1: Robust supplies of PPE help keep staff safe and a dedicated PPE team is best placed to focus on securing the right supplies at the right time.
- 2: Having a dedicated team means councils’ PPE procurement is joined up across departments, thereby increasing efficiency and making sure taxes are spent wisely.
- 3: For better or worse councils, find themselves in the position of provider of last resort for the social care sector, a critical piece of the nation’s welfare state; providing social work, personal care, protection and support services to children and adults with needs resulting from illness, disability, old age or poverty. Therefore, making sure supplies are adequate is of vital importance for the continued functioning of social care services. Having a dedicated PPE team means councils are equipped to anticipate demand and arrange supplies accordingly.
- 4: As the trajectory of the Covid-19 pandemic is far from certain – a vaccine may result in reduced PPE requirements – councils must plan for the worst and hope for the best. A dedicated team can best focus on staying on top of PPE guidance and monitor the fast-changing situation.
Essex County Council is to be applauded for its sensible initiative, one that other councils should take heed of. If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us one thing, it’s that by failing to prepare, we would be preparing to fail.