Some categories of free personal protective equipment (PPE) for GP practices are estimated to run out of stock next month – a year before the scheme is set to end.
Last month, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said that free PPE for practices had been extended until 31 March 2024, or until stocks were depleted.
The extension is to protect frontline healthcare staff from Covid as part of the government’s living with Covid-19 strategy during a ‘challenging period’ of global inflation and cost of living pressures.
But last week the DHSC published information estimating when it expects to run out of specific types of PPE. Two types of PPE will be out of stock this month, with a further 14 categories depleted by March 2023. These include certain types of aprons and nitrile gloves.
By June 2023, it expects another 17 types of PPE to be out of stock, including some alcohol hand rubs and vinyl gloves.
The DHSC has said that practices should only order PPE based on current demand and that ‘order limits will continue to apply and order volumes will be monitored’.
The department added that it would not accept returns of unused or expired PPE.
The scheme was initially introduced in 2020 when the wholesale market was struggling to respond to the increased demand for PPE due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
At this time, the DHSC purchased a ‘significant stock’ of PPE, which was centrally funded and provided free of charge to healthcare providers to ensure they could access it.
The DHSC committed to providing this free PPE until March 2021. However, this was then extended until the end of June 2021, and again until the end of March 2022, then until the end of March 2023.
This most recent extension until March 2024, or until stocks are depleted, hopes to transition the health service away from centrally funded PPE.
Practices can check estimated out-of-stock dates for PPE by category here.