Coronavirus: 'Clipper' PPE service needed now, councils urge

Dwindling supplies of vital life-saving personal protective equipment for frontline care workers will run out within days amid the delayed roll-out of the Government’s new supply website, the LGA warns today.  


Three green surgical face masks on a table

The Government’s “Clipper” system intends to provide a central hub for the supply and distribution of PPE. However, it is yet to be fully up and running following a delay in going live and could take at least another three weeks before it gets up to speed. 

Social care workers and other council service staff continue to risk their lives in keeping essential services going, including supporting our elderly and most vulnerable people, due to a chronic lack of masks, gowns, visors, goggles and other life-saving kit.

The LGA suggests that councils and local areas could each need access to millions of pieces of PPE, including masks, aprons and gloves each week, based on feedback from councils. It said shortages of PPE are hampering efforts to combat the coronavirus and is calling for councils to be given an urgent guarantee that emergency supplies will reach them and their partners while they wait for the Clipper service to be fully operational. 

This includes making sure that Local Resilience Forums, which are made up of councils and other emergency services, across the country have confirmation about when to expect future drops of emergency supplies.

Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:

“Social care staff and all those working in frontline roles are doing an incredible and dangerous job in challenging circumstances, given the chronic national shortfall of PPE. We must make sure our vital social care workers have all the protection and equipment they need to look after our most elderly and vulnerable.

“Emergency drops have been helpful, but they have been sporadic and inconsistent, with some supplies not always enough to meet local demand.

“Councils recognise that starting a new supply and distribution system from scratch is a huge undertaking, but we cannot afford any more delays. The Government’s online ordering system needs to be fully operational as soon as possible, so that councils and care providers can directly request that critical PPE gets to the frontline where it is desperately needed.”

It comes as councils are continuing to have to appeal to local businesses, manufacturers and other organisations to see if they can help supply unused or produce any new PPE such as gloves, aprons, goggles and masks.

  • More than 110 businesses and individuals in Wolverhampton have come forward to offer a wide range of PPE, which will be used to help keep the city council’s team of frontline social care workers safe as they deliver essential support to Wolverhampton’s most vulnerable residents.
  • Schools in Dorset have been responding to the crisis by making face masks and other PPE to help the NHS and other workers avoid infection. Many schools in the county have also donated their own supplies of goggles and face shields, usually used in science and technology lessons.
  • Gloves, aprons and face masks have all been donated by businesses and organisations after an urgent appeal for PPE was made in Southend-on-Sea. Over 20 businesses and organisations have responded to the appeal, including restaurants, schools and churches.