6th April 2020

UKFT statement on PPE

UKFT is working to support the government as it starts to increase the availability of PPE. However, it is estimated that global demand for PPE has grown by 1,000% in the past few weeks.

We have been overwhelmed by the very many offers to help we have received from across the UK fashion and textile community. Many of you have offered to help produce masks and gowns for the NHS and other key workers. There are a number of bottlenecks in the supply chain that government is looking to resolve very quickly and the most important of which is the availability of the correct fabric. It is vital that all PPE is made from the appropriate material otherwise the protection given by items could be compromised.

The government are now working rapidly to put in place a quick and simple system to onboard companies to the NHS supply base, to develop the appropriate terms and conditions and to ensure the regulatory system is able to cope with the ramping up of production.

When these measures are all in place the government will be operating a triage system which in effect will see government work with larger manufacturing firms first. This does not mean that offers from smaller companies are unwanted. However, government officials have asked that small companies do not manufacture products without hearing from government regarding the required specifications.

UKFT has shared with the government details of those companies that are already able to source PPE at scale and speed.

Masks and surgical gowns have very specific performance requirements and if you are supplying PPE to hospital and health workers who are in constant contact with those unfortunate enough to have contracted the virus, the products you make must meet these specifications. Currently all gowns and masks also have to be tested to ensure they meet the specifications and test laboratories are working at capacity.