Joint letter to Lord Deighton on ongoing PPE supply challenges

Access to and supply of personal protective equipment remains a significant issue. Last week the Government appointed Lord Deighton to oversee efforts to improve the supply of PPE.

Together with the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, the Royal College of Surgeons of England, the Royal College of Anaesthetists and the Royal College of Physicians, we have written to Lord Deighton welcoming his appointment and asking for an urgent meeting.

In the letter, we highlight our ongoing concerns around supply, the worry this issue continues to cause, and the need for Lord Deighton "to be open and frank in your new role about the challenges you face, while doing everything possible to get the supplies to where they are needed."

Full text of the letter:

Dear Lord Deighton, 

Congratulations on your appointment as the PPE ‘tsar’. A role which will be critical to ensuring that NHS and social care staff are able to access all the PPE they need, whenever they need it. As Medical Royal Colleges we are the professional membership organisations representing over 166,000 members. As such we request an urgent meeting to discuss the ongoing challenges and potential solutions. 

It will be no surprise to you that our members remain concerned about PPE availability and stocks. While some report improvements over the last few weeks, too many still say there are significant issues. Clinicians are facing the challenge of their lives and doing the very best for their patients. It saddens us that at this extraordinary time they are also having to worry about the fundamentals of personal safety, including when the next PPE consignment will arrive at their workplace and how long it will last. 

We know that procurement specialists across the NHS are working around the clock and we are grateful for all that they are doing. We hope that your new role will add impetus to this, so ensuring that no clinician is ever put in the impossible situation where they have to choose between protecting their own health, or that of their patients. 

It’s obvious that global supply chains are under considerable strain and that there will be challenges, this is every nation’s nightmare. But it is no good for our members knowing that a shipment may arrive in five days’ time, if they are only a matter of hours away from running out of equipment. Doctors, nurses and other health and social care professionals are used to managing the unexpected, but they can do that best when they are kept informed and communicated with honestly. 

Just as clinicians have a duty of candour with patients and their families, the government must observe the same principle with the profession. We encourage you to be open and frank in your new role about the challenges you face, while doing everything possible to get the supplies to where they are needed. 
We look forward to working with you in the weeks and months ahead. 

Yours sincerely,

Professor Andrew Goddard – President, Royal College of Physicians
Professor Martin Marshall – Chair, Royal College of General Practitioners
Professor Derek Alderson – President, Royal College of Surgeons
Professor Ravi Mahajan – President, Royal College of Anaesthetists
Dr Katherine Henderson – President, Royal College of Emergency Medicine
Professor Russell Viner – President, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health