Statement on the Group’s approach to Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)

In light of the continuing concern about PPE in national news we feel it is important all staff and stakeholders have a clear understanding of the charity's approach to the supply of PPE.

Equipment is essential whilst staff are supporting our customers to ensure both parties are adequately protected. National guidance on PPE has been updated regularly by Government, reflecting the advice received by clinicians as knowledge about COVID-19 increases. Avalon has also regularly updated its policy, which has been circulated to all Locality Managers. The latest version can be found on our website by clicking HERE, and is therefore available to all staff.

The PPE equipment used by our staff includes the following items: masks, gloves and visors. Additionally we aim to provide sanitizers which have been difficult to purchase locally.

In light of the significant increase in orders and the difficulties in securing supply, a member of staff has been seconded to co-ordinate the purchase of equipment and an inventory system created which is updated weekly by Locality Managers to indicate current stock, weekly usage and requests for additional items.

The supply of PPE nationally has been problematic. PPE is usually manufactured in China and delivered in batches to the UK (who competes with the rest of the world for supplies). The Government has set up a number of approved suppliers but availability changes from week to week. Our main supplier is Gompels, who are one of the approved suppliers. On occasion, however, we need to purchase from other sources to ensure enough equipment is circulated to localities.

The main issue has been with the provision of masks. There are two main types of masks used in health and social care: surgical masks and fluid resistant masks. Before accepting a supply we seek confirmation that the masks are approved. We do this by asking the supplier for certificates of compliance as well as checking them at arrival before distribution. However different batches have different labels which are usually applied in China and can be of variable clarity.

Our process has ensured that so far we have been able to provide sufficient stock to all localities. Locality Managers are aware that they need to continue to undertake Risk assessments of each customer supported and should they think the equipment provided does not offer adequate cover they can contact the Local Resilience Centres or the national supply number. We are confident that the equipment provided adequately cover risks by staff.

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