On 23rd April 2020 in a virtual sitting of the House of Lords Baroness McIntosh of Pickering asked the Government “how many United Kingdom manufacturers are in place to ensure that an adequate supply of personal protective equipment is made available to (1) the National Health Service, and (2) carers, to all regions of the United Kingdom; and what direct contact they have had with such manufacturers based in the North of England.” The Bishop of Newcastle, Rt Revd Christine Hardman, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: My Lords, in view of the inability to supply sufficient PPE to where it is needed, despite the very best efforts of central government, will the Minister take note of the achievements of the Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, working in partnership with Wingrove Motor Company, Northumbria University, Barbour and many others, to produce and deliver PPE directly to hospitals and hospices in the region? Will the Minister consider devolving more power to the regions and those on the front line?
Lord Bethell: The reference that the right reverend Prelate makes is an entirely right one. I pay tribute to the hard-working professionals in NHS and care home procurement. They have been caught in the eye of the most tremendous storm and, under extremely difficult circumstances, are working hard to meet the challenge. In particular, I pay tribute to the local procurement teams who are using their initiative to answer the challenge. Our approach to PPE procurement is one of collaboration with these sorts of local initiatives. I commend them, and they very much spell the future of PPE procurement.