The Sheffield PPE Cell was established at the beginning of April 2020. The initial purpose of the group was to establish links with local manufacturers to develop local manufacturing of PPE supplies. The group quickly broadened their conversations to have an overview of PPE run rates/mutual aid and consistency of usage of PPE.
The group met on a weekly basis for two months, membership has included managers, procurement leads and infection control nurses from across health and social care partners in Sheffield. The cell was stood down once these links were made and next steps were agreed to ensure these links were maintained and members felt supported in their activities.
The priorities of the cell
- To establish links with local manufactures to develop local manufacturing of PPE supplies. The supply lines of PPE were not reliable and therefore there was a challenge of maximising the use of the PPE that was available and ensuring key parts of the health and care system received what was needed in a timely way
- To ensure that the NHS standards for PPE were being shared and used by suppliers. There was inconsistent use of PPE in different settings and inconsistent quality assurance of PPE as national and local guidance was being developed.
Procurement leads, commissioners and providers from the group have worked with the WeGotYourBack initiative, one of the partners being the University of Sheffield (UoS), to guide local manufactures in the making of quality standardised face visors and masks. Currently over 5000 face visors have been made in the UoS iForge Makerspace. Following this quick response, UoS team are now the Yorkshire Hub for the 3DCrowd UK initiative.
- Intelligence on current run rates on PPE have been established across the individual Trusts in the city and Sheffield City Council.
- The process for General Practices to source additional PPE stocks when usual supplies have been challenged has been established.
- Established offer from STH clinical engineering team to support quality assurance of ad hoc PPE donations. Group shared specifications and guidance as they have been published to ensure consistency of approach.
- Highly effective system of mutual aid is now in place across the health and social care partners in the city. This is maintained through daily conversations between procurement leads.
Implications: How we may work differently in the future
Through the establishment of the PPE Cell a highly effective system of mutual aid started by members involved in the cell is now in place across health and social care partners in the city. Procurement leads from the cell are having regular conversations on current run rates on PPE thus maximising the use of the PPE that is available and ensuring key parts of the health and care system received what they need in a timely way.
Testimonials from those involved in the PPE Cell
“The cross organisational team that formed the PPE cell, in a time of unpresented challenge in the Health and Social care system was a true collaboration of organisations across the city to effectively utilise resources, support each organisation in maintaining service delivery through mutual aid and engaging with wider industry. The challenges faced cannot be underestimated.. Well Done to everyone..”Alun Windle, Acting Chief Nurse, Sheffield CCG
“Without the different partners in the city coming together, and so willingly providing each other with mutual aid, the shortages in PPE could have had a much larger impact on services ability to continue to function. Working across the health and social care system enabled effective information sharing and reduced duplication of effort. We were able to make the most of different organisations specialist areas of expertise to benefit the whole system and ultimately the people of Sheffield.”Kathryn Robertshaw, ACP Deputy Director for Delivery
“The cell was initially set up to establish links with the local and wider manufacturing community to develop the local manufacturing of PPE supplies. Although we achieved this, particularly in relation to the rapid manufacturing of face-visors, the biggest achievement of the cell were the connections between health and care organisations in Sheffield which built a highly successful mutual aid process that works really well; these connections will definitely be maintained into the future.”Rory Browne, Head of Procurement, Sheffield CCG