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Clipper Logistics has been sub-contracted by NHS Supply Chain principal partner Unipart to run an entirely separate supply channel for the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) to NHS Trusts and community healthcare partners.

It is understood the Clipper Logistics operation is being run out of DIRFT and deliveries have now commenced.

Mobilisation of the solution took five days, including setting up a full warehouse management system for over 200,000 sq. ft. of warehousing space.

Unipart was granted a five-year contract to provide logistics for NHS SC in September 2018, in a deal worth £730m. Its responsibilities included the inventory management, warehousing and delivery of non-drug medical consumables and devices to NHS hospitals.

However, NHS workers have complained of an ongoing shortage of PPE.

On 20 March deputy chief medical officer Jenny Harries claimed that the distribution issues were solved, and on 30 March said the UK had always had sufficient stock. She apologised two days later, saying the distribution element had proved "a little bit tricky".

The failure to provide adequate PPE to NHS hospitals was dubbed a ‘crisis within a crisis’ in a joint trade union statement on 1 April and has been blamed for putting NHS staff at risk.

Clipper executive chairman Steve Parkin commented: “These are unprecedented times, and the support we have received from NHS Supply Chain, Unipart and 101 Logistic Brigade has been outstanding, and has enabled us to create a truly collaborative solution as a result.

"The solution has required tremendous flexibility and a shared sense of purpose and support in these challenging times. I’d like to personally thank all of our colleagues for their dedication and support in these unusual and difficult circumstances. We are all pleased to be able to support the NHS in a critical time for the country, helping NHS staff operate safely whilst caring for those in need.”

An NHS Supply Chain spokesperson said: “Demand for PPE products from our customers is so unprecedented that despite increasing staffing levels and running NHS Supply Chain’s network 24/7, more capacity is still needed to help us ensure that PPE products are delivered to the front line.

"The new PPE dedicated supply chain will relieve pressure on the established NHS Supply Chain and allow us to focus on delivering all other products in our catalogue, some in equally high demand."