Cookie policy: This site uses cookies (small files stored on your computer) to simplify and improve your experience of this website. Cookies are small text files stored on the device you are using to access this website. For more information please take a look at our terms and conditions. Some parts of the site may not work properly if you choose not to accept cookies.


Subscribe or Register

Existing user? Login


Wholesalers 'almost completely out' of government-supplied PPE, trade body warns

The Healthcare Distribution Association has said it is currently waiting to hear when further supplies of personal protective equipment will be available from Public Health England.

Open access article

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has made this article free to access in order to help healthcare professionals stay informed about an issue of national importance.

To learn more about coronavirus, please visit:

Pharmacist holding fluid-resistant surgical mask

Source: Philipp von Ditfurth/DPA/PA Images

Pharmacies have been advised to contact their local resilience forum to obtain personal protective equipment

Wholesalers have “almost completely run out” of the personal protective equipment (PPE) supplied by Public Health England (PHE) for distribution to community pharmacies during the COVID-19 pandemic, the wholesaler trade body has warned.

In a statement published on 29 April 2020, the Healthcare Distribution Association (HDA) said it was waiting for an announcement of further supplies from PHE, with pharmacies instead advised to contact their local resilience forum (LRF) for the recommended fluid-resistant (Type IIR) surgical masks.

The statement comes after a survey by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society revealed that one in three pharmacists have been unable to access continuous supplies of PPE.

On 9 April 2020, three wholesalers — AAH Pharmaceuticals, Alliance Healthcare and Phoenix — received supplies of PPE from the government reserve.

However, AAH Pharmaceuticals, which said at that time it had received “limited stocks” of masks, told The Pharmaceutical Journal  in a statement on 30 April 2020 that it has “run out of the [government] stock”.

“We are working with the HDA to understand when new stocks will be released, and how regularly thereafter, to ensure that all community pharmacies have access to the protective equipment that they need,” it said, adding that the company is sourcing masks through its own suppliers and expects these to be available “in the next couple of weeks”.

Alliance Healthcare said it also “does not have any of the PHE-supplied stock available” but added that it does have “limited stock available” from other sources, with further deliveries anticipated in May 2020.

The third wholesaler, Phoenix, would not comment on its current PPE supply.

The HDA’s statement said it wanted “the community pharmacy sector to be aware that the stocks of PHE PPE masks recently supplied by the association’s member wholesalers to pharmacies, for staff use only, have now almost completely run out”.

It added that the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) had advised the trade body that PPE supplies were directed to LRFs “to help distribute stock to organisations outside of the NHS supply chain who have the highest need clinically, and other services that would have a high priority need for PPE, including pharmacists”.

Martin Sawer, executive director of HDA, said the amount of PPE available to wholesalers from sources outside of PHE was “not huge volumes at all and it varies a lot by wholesaler”.

When asked whether sourcing PPE in this way would meet demand, Sawer said: “The HDA does not believe so currently, but the situation is very fluid as production sites globally open up again.”

However, he added: “I do believe that PHE and the DHSC, and others, are prioritising PPE procurement for the UK.”

In a statement on its website, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) told community pharmacies that are running out of PPE to contact their LRF for more supplies.

Simon Dukes, chief executive of PSNC, said the HDA’s comments show “just how critical the national PPE situation is becoming”.

“It is putting the safety of community pharmacy staff at risk, which is quite simply unacceptable,” he said, adding that he would highlight to government “the absolute imperative that our staff are protected”. 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2020.20207942

Have your say

For commenting, please login or register as a user and agree to our Community Guidelines. You will be re-directed back to this page where you will have the ability to comment.

Recommended from Pharmaceutical Press

  • BNF and BNF for Children

    BNF and BNF for Children

    Now available as a 1 year print subscription to both the BNF and BNFC, ensuring you have the latest medicines information as it publishes and at a greatly reduced price.

    £138.50Buy now
  • BNF and BNF for Children

    BNF and BNF for Children

    Now available as a 2 year print subscription to both the BNF and BNFC, ensuring you have the latest medicines information as it publishes and at a greatly reduced price.

    £262.50Buy now
  • Patient Care in Community Practice

    Patient Care in Community Practice

    Patient Care in Community Practice is a unique, practical guide for healthcare professionals or carers. Covers a range of non-medicinal products suitable for use at home.

    £22.00Buy now
  • Essentials of Economic Evaluation in Healthcare

    Essentials of Economic Evaluation in Healthcare

    An introduction to economic evaluation specific to healthcare, for those with little or no knowledge of economics. Covers cost effectiveness, cost utility and cost benefit analysis.

    £33.00Buy now
  • Drugs of Abuse

    Drugs of Abuse

    A concise, easy-to-read guide for healthcare professionals who encounter drug abuse.

    £38.00Buy now

Search an extensive range of the world’s most trusted resources

Powered by MedicinesComplete
  • Print
  • Share
  • Comment
  • Save
  • Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

Jobs you might like

Newsletter Sign-up

Want to keep up with the latest news, comment and CPD articles in pharmacy and science? Subscribe to our free alerts.