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Urgent protective equipment call for council workers

By George Makin | Sandwell | Coronavirus | Published:

Sandwell Council has sent out an urgent call for personal protective equipment (PPE) after councillors met behind closed doors to coordinate its response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Sandwell Council

The authority is asking companies to list prices for items including face masks, coveralls, surgical gowns, gloves, hand sanitizer and disposable aprons.

The call comes as doctors and MPs have called on the government to provide more protective clothing to frontline staff in the NHS.

Town hall unions have called for face masks to be issued to employees saying some staff, such as bin men, cannot practice social distancing as they travel in refuse collection vehicles.

In a departure from normal tendering rules of just accepting the lowest bids, the council has asked suppliers to provide quotes so it can purchase PPE as it requires them.

Sandwell’s call came after the authority’s emergency committee met in private on Monday to discuss the authority’s priorities and procurement in response to coronavirus.

Following that meeting, the council posted a notice on a government website asking for:

Fluid Repellent Masks

Fluid Repellent Masks with eye shields

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Coveralls

Surgical Gowns with long sleeves

Long cuffed surgical gloves

Shoes Covers

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Hand sanitizer

Disposable Aprons

Commenting on the tender, a spokesman, said: “The council is mobilising its contingency plans to respond to the pandemic and is advertising to identify a range of suppliers that would be available to the council so there is resilience in our supply chain, if needed.

“No actual numbers have been specified as this is not the purpose of the exercise.

“The council is required to consider best value when considering purchases and will always endeavour to do so.”

Last week, the emergency committee heard 370 staff were self isolating in line with Government guidance, due to illness or because they live with someone showing coronavirus symptoms.

However, many of those employees are still able to work from home and are not reporting symptoms.

The authority has also closed public buildings such as libraries, museums, council offices, recycling centres and has announced it is prioritising refuse collections.

Residents needing to contact the council are being asked to set up a online MySandwell account to access services, pay bills or report issues. People not online can call 0121 368 1166.

George Makin

By George Makin
@GeorgePMakin

Local Democracy Reporter covering Sandwell and Dudley.

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