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2am phone call secures load of PPE for Cornwall

2am phone call secures load of PPE for Cornwall

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 8:07am 24th April 2020.

Written by Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy Reporter

The chief executive of Cornwall Council has explained how a member of staff took a 2am phone call to secure 125,000 face masks for frontline workers helping people during the coronavirus outbreak.

Kate Kennally gave details of how one of her employees has switched his role to take on the important task of securing personal protective equipment (PPE) for Cornwall.

She said: “These are very much extraordinary times, all of us have seen our lives change beyond recognition.”

Ms Kennally added that many council staff are working in roles they are not familiar with and explained how one – who she referred to only as Tim – had been working in the council’s commercial services department before he was given the important role of procuring PPE for frontline workers.

It has been well publicised that levels of PPE have been low and there have been reports of staff in the NHS and care sector struggling to get the equipment they need.

Tim has been working alongside the multi-agency Devon, Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Resilience Forum, Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service, care services and NHS to secure the PPE needed.


Ms Kennally said he was “working long hours trying to secure PPE supplies from across the country and beyond and distribute it to where it is needed”.

She said she spoke to Tim who detailed a situation this week when a vital order of face masks fell through.

After a lot of to-ing and fro-ing the council found that the supplier itself had had an order fall through and so could not fulfil the order that the council had made which was “really disappointing”.

But then “at 2am Tim had a phone call from the supplier saying that an order of 125,000 masks was on its way and we needed to meet them at 8am that morning.

“This is Tim’s new normal. It is the same for many staff across the council and our partner organisations, working long hours in many cases night and day to keep Cornwall running.”

Rob Rotchell, Cornwall Council Cabinet member for adults, said the problems with PPE are still his “single biggest concern” in the coronavirus crisis.

He said the care sector currently has around seven to 10 days worth of stock in the system and another 150,000 face masks are set to arrive in Cornwall next week. Despite this he said demand continues to outstrip supply.

“I call on the Government to provide concrete assurances that supplies will be available when we need them,” said Cllr Rotchell.

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