Nottinghamshire County Council has has 'good levels' of PPE to manage a potential winter Covid spike

Nottinghamshire County Council’s current stock of PPE gives the “assurance” it can manage a potential Covid peak this winter, an official has said.

Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 8:00 am

And the coming winter months will be used to assess the council’s planning, ahead of the Government ending its provision of free PPE in March next year.

Council papers say the authority has “good levels of stock” for items such as masks and visors, which remain mandatory within the health and social care setting.

When the pandemic first struck, however, council teams were stockpiling PPE items at County Hall and spent almost £2.7 million acquiring the equipment within the first two months.

Nottinghamshire County Council’s current stock of PPE gives the “assurance” it can manage a potential Covid peak this winter.

The council has since created a PPE warehouse full of both its own stock and Department of Health and Social Care items, kept in preparation for future outbreaks.

However, this comes ahead of Government plans to halt its programme of free PPE for local councils in March 2022.

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After this point, local authorities must pay for any equipment they require to support health and social care staff.

But Kaj Ghattaora, group manager for procurement at the council, told the finance committee on Monday September 6 the council is preparing for this change.

She said: “Last year we were in a responsive mode but now we’ve got a strong team, a warehouse [and] a really good stock-management system.

“We’ve got good levels of stock, both from DHSC and our own, and that provides us with the assurance we can manage any peak we may face in the winter.

“In terms of future PPE provision, we’re going to take stock of what the winter looks like, and what impact that has on PPE.

“We’ll be looking to bring a further report sometime in the new year, with outlines for what we do beyond March 2022.”

The council documents say spending on PPE reduced to as low as £85.75 in May 2021, down from more than £2.4 million in April last year.

But the meeting heard concerns from some councillors, who fear Covid “is not going to go away”.

Councillor Lee Waters, who represents Hucknall South, said: “Whilst I welcome this report, I have concerns about the financial impact on this authority when we no longer receive financial support after March 31, 2022.

“Covid is not going to go away and remains a particular problem in north Nottinghamshire.

“If Covid remains a significant issue after March 31, 2022, do we expect the DHSC to extend its financial support accordingly?”

Responding to the concerns, Coun Richard Jackson, chairman of the finance committee, said the authority has ample reserve cash to acquire PPE if or when the DHSC support ends.

He added: “We have put money into our Covid reserve to deal with this sort of cost, which we know will come up.

“We have got plans and we’ve got stocks of PPE as and when it’s required, but we obviously don’t know what the requirement is going to be at this stage.”