Hands up who thinks it might work this way?

Right now the UK government has, through its own negligence, decided to put the lives of doctors and other medical staff at risk by not supplying them with the PPE that they need.

And what the means is that not only are doctors putting their own lives ta risk – which we should not be asking them to do – but that they are also putting the lives of all those they move between in hospitals at risk, and that they are also putting their families and others that they meet in the community (and yes, the go shopping like the rest of us, where they will meet people) at risk as well.

A point will be reached – and I suspect it will be very soon – where doctors will say that the balance of those risks has shifted and that it would better for them not to work than to do so. The overall risk to society will be reduced by them not seeing patients in hospital.

This is before we start to consider such thoughts as, well, doesn’t each hospital have a team of purchasing managers? And why didn’t they buy PPE? And if it is true that it is Ministers who should have been doing that then don;t we get to fire all the purchasing managers as not being needed?

28 thoughts on “Hands up who thinks it might work this way?”

  1. The Other Bloke in Italy

    The other day, we braved the checkpoints to take my wife’s little dog to the vet. She was in full PPE, which she had, presumably, bought herself. Most of the consultation took place in the open air.

    If I worked for the NHS, I would buy the kit for myself, and give the bill to the hospital.

  2. What is the point of a hospital with no medical hacks in it? What is Spud raving about? If it is THAT dangerous they should have asked help from Army germ warfare specialists. Tho’ after the dozy doorknob caper even Porton Down has a series of black marks against it. Or use SCUBA gear for a separate air supply if “official” help proves useless.

    NHS Procurers are to blame. They should have their ear to the ground for developing medical situations. Popular scuttlebutt has them on 2 or 3 times Blojo’s wage. If so, for that kind of cash they SHOULD be on the ball.

  3. @ BoM4
    Typical bureaucracy not shit government. We do need to have some rules on what comprises safety equipment to make sure that it is safe but the government doesn’t dictate that it takes two weeks to process the paperwork.

  4. My dad ended his working days as a Purchasing and Supplies Manager for a couple of NHS hospitals. I know he was on less than my mental health social worker mum because that was a bit of a thing for him (MrsBud was not a mental health social worker until after about 25 years of marriage so no weird Oedipus Complex going on). One of the biggest issues he had to deal with was pilfering and I bet that has gone through the roof in recent months.

    I was on a mine a couple of weeks ago and the mine workers were told that there was a real chance that operations would have to cease because dust masks were running out due to the number being taken home and the unavailability of replacements. All seems pretty stupid when the entirety of Queensland had no new cases in the last 24 hours and the whole of Australia only 26.

  5. The correct right-wing view is always the promotion of individual responsibility. Every doctor and nurse should have kept a fully-stocked wardrobe of PPE at home for just such an eventuality. Why should it be somebody else’s job?

    No love lost for NHS managers, but a worldwide shortage of PPE does make things tricky. This tale from the chief exec of a hospital the U.S. is quite extraordinary:
    https://twitter.com/marynmck/status/1251538798292467712

  6. “Typical bureaucracy not shit government. We do need to have some rules on what comprises safety equipment to make sure that it is safe but the government doesn’t dictate that it takes two weeks to process the paperwork.”

    The government pays the wages of the civil servants. They hire the people at the top and can either fire them or tell them to go home and sit in the garden, if they’re not good enough, and bring in better people.

    Or maybe assign support people to them, or send them bottles of champagne every day to keep them motivated. Or add more people. Are the PPE inspectorate working at least 12 hour days, and if not, why not? Are they ready to take a call in the middle of the night because a company has a new version of the documentation for them to review? If they need to look at physical materials, have they been put in a caravan on the site, ready to walk into a factory to take a look at it?

    That’s the stuff you do in a crisis. You remove every point of possible delay. Because each little delay can really add up. The company has their paperwork ready at 5:30 and the civil servant has gone home at 5, it doesn’t get checked until the next day. That’s 15 hours of delay that you’ve added. You send a sample by post rather than being in a caravan on site to receive it, or delivery by courier, that’s days of delays.

    If you’ve got bureaucratic types working for you, you get status reports every day. If something can’t be done, you find the best way forward.

  7. I wouldn’t be surprised if one factor on the bureaucratic slowness is that most of the bureaucrats hate the Tories and would quite happily see the NHS collapse and patients and staff die under a Tory Government, just so they would get the blame. I can quite easily see individuals refusing to do anything but their usual bare minimum on the grounds ‘I’m not helping that c*nt Boris!’

  8. Andrew M,

    “No love lost for NHS managers, but a worldwide shortage of PPE does make things tricky. ”

    Sure, hard to deal with, but what’s the excuse for this:

    https://www.drapersonline.com/business-operations/i-had-to-bypass-nhs-to-make-ppe-for-hospitals/7040167.article

    Do you think the bureaucrats worked over the Easter holidays like the volunteers helping out at David Nieper did?

    Night-watchman state. That’s mostly where I’m at now. Cut all benefits and let charities run it all. Government is totally shit.

  9. At this abnormal level of workload I imagine a lot of NHS purchasing people will be off with work related stress.

  10. Dennis the Essential

    Last time I checked, purchasing managers took their marching orders from operations management, with the blessing of senior management. If hospitals don’t have the PPE they need, the blame goes a bit further up the foodchain than the purchasing department.

  11. Jim,

    “I wouldn’t be surprised if one factor on the bureaucratic slowness is that most of the bureaucrats hate the Tories and would quite happily see the NHS collapse and patients and staff die under a Tory Government, just so they would get the blame.”

    Nah, they’re just a mix of lazy and useless. They were just as shit under a Labour government as afterwards.

  12. Bloke in North Dorset

    BoM4,

    Or maybe assign support people to them, or send them bottles of champagne every day to keep them motivated. Or add more people. Are the PPE inspectorate working at least 12 hour days, and if not, why not? Are they ready to take a call in the middle of the night because a company has a new version of the documentation for them to review? If they need to look at physical materials, have they been put in a caravan on the site, ready to walk into a factory to take a look at it?

    That’s the stuff you do in a crisis. You remove every point of possible delay. Because each little delay can really add up. The company has their paperwork ready at 5:30 and the civil servant has gone home at 5, it doesn’t get checked until the next day. That’s 15 hours of delay that you’ve added. You send a sample by post rather than being in a caravan on site to receive it, or delivery by courier, that’s days of delays.

    That’s the way it should work but government is slightly different and I find myself in the uncomfortable position of having some sympathy for ministers.

    Ministers set policy but they cannot be involved in operational decisions. They don’t even get to pick their own permanent secretaries there’s also a convention that they don’t publicly criticise civil servants. Look what happened to Priti Patel.

    Imagine the fuss if a minister started interfering or even removing senior people? The MSM and social media would explode with indignation.

    The real failure here is the MSM not realising that ministers have given the NHS and PHE an open cheque book and carte blanche and those organisations are still failing. They should be asking your questions of the heads of those organisations.

  13. Ah, this reminds me of the time I was working alongside rail employees and got a purchase order (for some smallish sum, maybe $50k?) out within 4 weeks. I had to be an absolute pain in the arse, ring people every day, just to find out whose desk it was on waiting for signoff. Long term colleagues in the industry were amazed. They were conditioned to expect a minimum three months for paperwork – and many had private arrangements with suppliers to get stuff shipped in from overseas in anticipation of the order. I’ll never get employed in that sector again, made too many enemies.

    I’m guessing the UK government has nothing to do with it.

  14. BiND,

    “Ministers set policy but they cannot be involved in operational decisions. They don’t even get to pick their own permanent secretaries there’s also a convention that they don’t publicly criticise civil servants. Look what happened to Priti Patel.”

    There’s no law that says they can’t, just convention. Hang convention for the time being and hire and fire who you need to get the job done.

    And personally, I think we have to scrap this “independent civil service” nonsense. Government have been hired to deliver and they should be able to hire who they please to deliver services and improve people’s lives. It’s not like they’re really indepedendent because they’re as self-interested as any other individuals, so without the sanction of being easy to fire, they become lazy.

  15. Based on other reports I’ve seen PPE seems to have been regarded as a consumable item with a robust JIT supply line, in fairness to the procurement people it’s not their responsibility to set the stock levels. A previous PHE exercise had identified PPE as critical in a pandemic so it should have been stocked appropriately. So either more than a couple of weeks onsite or leave hospitals to take care of operational stock and have a central emergency supply. What we seem to have had was just local operational stock and no measure of risk to the JIT supply lines

  16. How come some of the PPE was past its use-by date? Normal warehouse (and the sage will tell you, accounting) procedure is FIFO (first in first out). If they’ve just kept a stock in an unused warehouse for years (effectively LIFO) that is incompetence of a high order.

  17. Get rid of public sector unions, open up cicil servants to civil lawsuits and start confiscating pensions and sending the worst offenders to trial for criminal negligence/dereliction of duty.

  18. BiND-Your sympathy for Ministers is entirely misplaced. As I said about firing all the Marxist Uni trash–now they have the power never mind contracts etc.

    If they can –try–to lock us all up then they can say to any SCS scum meeting “The only word I want to hear from any of you is HOW you are going to do what I tell you to do. The first of you–regardless of who– trying any Hump Appleby lines loses his job and his pension and will be literally thrown out into Downing St”.

    Simple enough.

    But of course they are BluLab scum. They throw their weight about with plebs –not their fellow public schoolboys.

  19. @phillip

    Given the choice of increasing the stock in hospitals to allow for a a pandemic or a central warehouse holding extra stock that sits there unused until its needed (and is then surprisingly out of date) which option do you think PHE would pursue?
    At the very least for date limited items PHE could have been a central supplier for trusts so that stock was rotated through as you’d expect and PHE maintained the emergency levels, but that would be joined up thinking and stepping on people’s toes so no doubt verboten

  20. I believe the govt has a strategic stock of food. I saw a list/map of the warehouses once, one of which I noted as I pass it quite often on the A1. I assume there is a process to rotate the stock, since even frozen has a use-by date. There should have been a similar strategic stock of health consumables with a rotation process if the future pandemic committee had done its job properly. For all I know there actually was one, but the current demand would have run any realistic strategic stock down pretty quickly. And obvious wallying about by both NHS and PHE has squandered any time benefit a strategic stock would make available.

  21. “I believe the govt has a strategic stock of food. I saw a list/map of the warehouses once”

    I don’t think that a strategic food reserve still exists. I’ve a feeling it was discontinued at some point in the 90s. It certainly has been reduced, I know this from personal knowledge – about a mile from my farm are some large ex-WW2 aircraft hangers all out on their own (they were a satellite location to a local large aircraft factory) and certainly in the 80s and 90s they were used as part of the strategic food reserve network. We always called it ‘The Sugar Factory’ on the grounds it was said that sugar was stored there. Then eventually it was closed down, and the whole site was sold. Its still there, just used by a local farming operation, who bought it.

    According to this article the strategic food reserve was ended in 1995, presumably due to the end of the Cold War:

    https://www.subbrit.org.uk/features/strategic-food-stockpile/

  22. @Tim W

    This is before we start to consider such thoughts as, well, doesn’t each hospital have a team of purchasing managers? And why didn’t they buy PPE?

    Well done, only four weeks late on what I’ve repeatedly posted and response – crickets “Don’t criticise NHS”

    – “PPE shortage is because each NHS Trust’s Procurement Director failed to respond in December, January and February and order more*. Manufacturers would then have been able to respond. Boris & Hancock not responsible. When will BBC, C4, ITV interrogate these very highly paid (~3x Hancock’s salary) Procurement Directors?”

    @BoM4 April 20, 2020 at 12:54 pm

    Absolutely. Trump is kicking regulators butts fast as he can; BoJo etc here doing very little other than surrendering and apologising

    @Jim

    That and NHS & PHE fear allowing any private work/help in case it becomes permanent

    @philip

    Yes, FIFO. However, why does a face mask in sealed packet go “bad” after xx months? Who & why was a “use by” date mandated?

  23. Didn’t EU regulate use by dates for loads of things at one point so even preservatives and stuff like salt has to have a use by date

  24. Almost all the “PPE” I see refered to are gowns and trousers. How on earth are they running out? What on earth are they doing with them, eating them? Chuck ’em in for a hot wash at the end of the shift, use ’em again tomorrow. When I worked in a hospital the laundry room was the busiest area of the whole building.

    If “single-use” plastics are such an evil, surely single-use clothing is Gaia-murdering planet-rape double-plus-evil.

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