Essex County Council secures 200,000 face masks from China

Health / Wed 13th May 2020 at 09:17am

THANKS to a strong, 30-year relationship with colleagues from Jiangsu Province in China, Essex County Council (ECC) has been able to secure 200,000 protective face masks to support critical need across the social care sector in Essex and neighbouring counties, including Norfolk, due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Led by Peter Manning, ECC’s International Trade team has worked closely with their Chinese contacts and shipping company, Woodland Group, to negotiate the procurement of the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for both Essex and Norfolk County Council. The first shipment of 100,000 masks arrived in Essex this week.

The process involved researching reputable factories in China to identify those with the correct documentation and those that were on approved lists for medical device exports.

The team then liaised directly with the factories before working with Woodland Group – a global supply chain specialist – who were able to ensure costs were kept low and appropriate inspections took place prior to organising the correct customs documentation and successfully delivering the equipment to our dedicated storage facility this week.

Due to the national shortage of PPE, ECC is continuing to proactively put plans in place to establish local supply chains in order to meet urgent local need.

The council is also making it’s PPE sourcing service available, free-of-charge to other councils across the country during the outbreak, helping them to identify suppliers, perform due diligence and liaise on prices and minimum orders, before they purchase the equipment themselves.

Cllr David Finch, Leader of Essex County Council, said: “I’m so pleased we have been able to work with our colleagues in China and across the supply chain to procure this vital equipment and to also be able to offer this support to other councils in critical need of PPE.

“While we know the government is doing everything they can to get more PPE to the care sector, in Essex we have been very clear that we cannot sit around and wait for this to happen.

“The national PPE shortage will not be solved overnight and so we have been actively working on our own solutions. It is of paramount importance that care staff are protected so that they can carry out their vital duties to keep people safe.”

Councillor Andrew Jamieson, Norfolk County Council’s cabinet member for finance, said: “Norfolk County Council has now sourced over two million items of PPE to protect care workers in Norfolk, and having direct supply from the Chinese manufacturers as one of our routes provides better value for the taxpayer and makes us less dependent on middlemen.

“It has been hugely beneficial to have Essex’s Chinese contacts and expertise alongside our own sourcing team, and Woodland Group has been exemplary in arranging inspection and airfreight so we could get quality PPE to the front line quickly.”

Essex County Council has and continues to support the care market across the county, with provision of masks and other PPE, where this is most needed and in line with the Essex Resilience Forum guidelines.

Due to national shortages of PPE, it is vital that ECC manages supplies carefully on a local level. However, if a provider is in critical need, ECC can get supplies to them on the same day. All providers are expected to use PPE in line with Government guidelines.

ECC is expecting further deliveries of PPE over the coming weeks and is already supporting several other councils to source their own.

Any council procurement teams that are interested in finding out more should contact [email protected]. Councils will purchase their own supplies and are encouraged to aggregate their requests on a regional basis before approaching ECC.

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