Our recommendations

Ministry of Health: Management of personal protective equipment in response to Covid-19.

We recommend that:

  1. the Ministry of Health regularly review district health boards’ health emergency plans to ensure that they are complete, up to date, and consistent with each other and with the Ministry’s overarching Emergency Plan. The plans need to be kept current and tested regularly;
  2. the health emergency planning framework contain specific guidance about responsibilities for procuring and distributing personal protective equipment;
  3. the Ministry of Health and district health boards, with appropriate health and disability sector representatives, review how clinical guidelines for personal protective equipment will be prepared or amended and consistently communicated during emergencies. The Ministry needs to ensure that demand forecasting, supply, and procurement are updated to take account of changes to guidance that have an effect on demand;
  4. the Ministry of Health consider whether the roles, responsibilities, coverage, requirements, and planning assumptions for maintaining the national reserve of personal protective equipment are clear and remain appropriate;
  5. the Ministry of Health work with other government agencies to determine how workers and providers not currently covered by the national reserve of personal protective equipment access it in the future and clarify roles and responsibilities for this change;
  6. the Ministry of Health regularly reassess assumptions for the categories and amount of personal protective equipment to be held in the national reserve;
  7. the Ministry of Health implement a centralised system for regular public reporting on the national reserve and implement periodic stocktakes to confirm the accuracy of the data and the condition of the stock;
  8. the Ministry of Health reintroduce a requirement for district health boards to manage national reserve stock in such a way as to reduce the risk of stock becoming obsolete;
  9. the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with district health boards, prepare more detailed operational plans and processes that describe how the national reserve system should operate (including distribution mechanisms) and test these as part of future national health emergency exercises; and
  10. the Ministry of Health and the district health boards strengthen the procurement strategy by including an analysis of risks to the supply chain and have a plan to address those risks.