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11th May 2020, Forfar, Scotland

NHS agrees contact for manufacture of PPE gowns in Scotland

© Don & Low.© Don & Low.

According to a BBC report, a deal has been agreed to manufacture more personal protective equipment (PPE) for health and care workers in Scotland. The agreement will provide more than half of NHS Scotland's weekly requirement for non-sterile gowns, the Scottish government has announced.

Forfar-based manufacturer of woven and nonwoven fabrics Don and Low, will supply around 2.8 million square metres of fabric, which will be converted into gowns by Glenrothes based Keela, and Lancashire-based Redwood TTM Ltd. Keela will then work with two companies in Livingston, Transcal and Endura, to deliver the equipment.

Imports, shortages and confusion

The deal comes amid supply issues of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, with global demand for gloves and masks at unprecedented levels. Supplies to Scotland have so far come from a number of areas, including large imports of face masks from China, the BBC reports.

Earlier this month Scotland's largest health board, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said hospitals were experiencing PPE shortages and it had been forced to make purchases "at above usual prices".

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has previously said there were "adequate stocks of the main PPE" but acknowledged difficulties with delivering gowns.

Meanwhile, in April there was confusion over the distribution of PPE following claims that some suppliers in England had been told not to prioritise sending items to Scotland. The UK’s Westminster based Health Secretary Matt Hancock later told Scotland's Health Secretary Jeane Freeman that this was not the case, the BBC says.

The Scottish government said the new contracts would help strengthen and expand the supply of protective equipment and secure long-term stock levels. Trade Minister Ivan McKee said they help "protect us from any global supply issues." He said the new supply chain agreement would "ensure frontline staff continue to have the protection they need".

Mr McKee added the deal demonstrates what can be achieved through collaboration between public and private sectors during the pandemic.

The minister said: "The Scottish government, along with our colleagues at Scottish Enterprise and NHS Scotland, will continue to work with partners across the country to ensure that all frontline health and social care workers have access to the PPE they need."

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