A data collection process was rolled out nationally on Monday to “ensure deliveries are focused on trusts who need them most” and “help support mutual aid”. 

The system is fronted by a PPE survey built by Silicon Valley software firm Palantir, but one senior NHS procurement source told the Health Service Journal that stopping local procurement for certain products would be “catastrophic” unless deals for several months worth of stock was already in place.

The huge surge in global demand for PPE has seen individual trusts and care providers scrapping over suppliers and faced with hugely inflated prices.

Neil Hind, Greater Manchester’s NHS procurement lead, likened the landscape to the “Wild West” and said the negotiations made some health chiefs feel like “international arms dealers”.

Lord Deighton is now leading a national effort to increase domestic production, scale up existing manufacturing and tap into new resources.

Kate Hills, founder of Make it British, which is working with the Government, told the Telegraph: “As it is, it’s impossible to know what stock is where, and it’s chaotic. Some are stockpiling, some don’t have enough.

“There is no overview of stockholding. The last six weeks have been shambolic, but we are getting there.”

The procurement of gowns and masks remains “a big concern”, one senior NHS source told The Telegraph, with no sign of improvement.

“The problem is that there is a whole wealth of companies that are legitimate, and many who are not, who are trying to get into the market,” they said.

“We’re having to deal with middle men who purport to have supplies in China, and there’s a real challenge in determining who is genuine. The response from the Government has been slower than we would have wanted.”

The problem was exacerbated by the fact that gowns were never factored into strategic pandemic planning – a failure likely to raise questions at any potential future inquiries, they said.

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