The team was set up shortly after the Coronavirus outbreak in a response to calls from the UK Government to industry for support for frontline healthcare workers.
DE&S experts led a 270-strong ‘New Buy PPE’ team of volunteers from the NHS and other governmental bodies including the Cabinet Office and Department for Education to progress at pace submissions to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:
“The dexterity and resilience of the MOD procurement team has been outstanding. They have rapidly navigated complex procurement contracts and organised effective logistical support to ensure billions of vital PPE items reached the frontline as soon as possible.
“Defence has proven itself time and time again when asked to play its part in this pandemic and we will continue to do so as long as required.”
Currently, orders for more than 10.9 billion items of PPE, worth in excess of £5.8 billion, have been submitted to DHSC for approval.
Of these, orders for 9.7 billion items of PPE have been approved including 4.9 billion gloves, 3.2 billion face masks, 811 million aprons, 565 million safety glasses and 156 million gowns with suppliers all over the world.
DE&S’ Bruce Marshall, who led the New Buy PPE team, said:
“This has been a real team effort with people working all hours of the day to support the UK Government and those on the NHS front line.
“Procurement in complex situations is our specialism and the benefits of collaborative working between DE&S and other governmental agencies have been substantial.”
“In addition to quickly sourcing this large quantity of PPE, the Technical Assurance team, led by our incredibly competent and motivated Defence Quality Assurance Field Force team, have successfully assured products, identifying many potential counterfeit items in the process, thus ensuring as far as possible that any products that are procured will be suitable and safe for use by the end users.”
Sir Simon Bollom, DE&S CEO, said:
“DE&S has some of the UK government’s leading experts in the fields of procurement and technical quality assurance and we take great pride in the assistance that our people have been able to provide to support the NHS and wider social care need in the response to Covid-19.
“Overcoming many challenges, not least working remotely in an unfamiliar market and with new stakeholders, the New Buy PPE team has worked tirelessly and collaboratively with colleagues from the NHS and across government from the outset and this remarkable milestone indicates how focussed they are on getting vital PPE to the NHS front line.”
DE&S’s 10 billion items contributes to a total of 28 billion items of PPE ordered by a government-led consortium of industry, overseas partners and the armed forces to provide a continuous supply to health and care workers tackling coronavirus.
DE&S has 11,500 staff, most of whom work at their headquarters in Bristol. The organisation equips and supports the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force with a vast range of items, from jets and warships through to armoured vehicles and field kitchens.