An UK Government document published only late last week says that designated PPE suppliers can only supply care providers in England.
The document Covid-19: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Plan published last Friday, 10 April says that the companies “will all provide supplies to care providers registered with the Care Quality Commission”.
The Care Quality Commission is the independent regulator of all health and social care services in England only. No services in Wales or Scotland are registered with them.
The document makes no mention of the Welsh equivalent, the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales, and this may explain why companies told care providers in Wales and Scotland that they could not supply them with PPE.
Today the UK Government denied that suppliers were asked not to supply Wales and Scotland with PPE, but one supplier claimed otherwise.
Gompels posted a message on their website saying: “You must be registered and operating within England – apologies to Wales and Scotland, we are told you have different processes for getting emergency supplies.”
They later updated the message adding: “These restrictions are not something we have decided, they are a criteria given to us by Public Health England.
“We have been told that there are alternative arrangements in place for Wales and Scotland, but we have not been able to find out what they are. Please do not think this is us discriminating against our lovely and loyal Welsh and Scottish customers.”
Public Health England is an executive agency sponsored by the UK Government’s Department of Health and Social Care.
Gompels also sent an email to customers confirming that “Stocks are limited and are exclusively for Care Homes & Domicillary Care in England only.”
The UK Government document above names Gompels as one of seven companies designated to sell 23 million pieces of PPE.
“We have made arrangements with seven wholesalers to supply PPE to the social care sector. Careshop, Blueleaf, Delivernet, Countrywide Healthcare, Nexon Group, Wightman and Parrish and Gompels will all provide supplies to care providers registered with the Care Quality Commission,” the document says.
Today England’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock denied that PPE suppliers were not asked to prioritise England over Scotland.
However Wales’ Health Minister acknowledged at the Welsh Government’s daily press conference that there was evidence that some suppliers had been prioritising PPE to NHS and social care in England.
Scotland’s Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, said later that she had received assurances that PPE suppliers were not asked to prioritise England over Scotland.
She, along with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, had expressed concern that care home workers north of the border could be losing out.
Care homes in both Wales and Scotland have had trouble sourcing PPE after companies decided to sell to England only.
Last week a care home owner in Wales says she has been refused PPE by Gompels because her suppliers are reserving stock for English customers.
Ceri Roberts, who runs two care homes in Porthmadog and Criccieth in Gwynedd, said two suppliers had declined to sell to her when she tried to buy aprons and gloves for her staff.
She said that she was told by one supplier told her it was selling stock “on behalf of Public Health England”.
Gompels told her: “We notice that your order includes products which we are selling on behalf of Public Health England, and we can only deliver these products for people who operate in England. Different schemes exist for Scotland and Wales.”