A MAJOR supplier of vital protective kit has insisted it will provide most vital gear to Scottish care homes and agencies.

After days of controversy over a decision not to send some safety items to Scotland, Gompels announced it would provide all 2000 essential products –minus three unspecified items – to Scottish services.

On its website, the company said: “Each day we distribute millions of items of PPE to care settings in Scotland, Wales and England. Our committed team have been working incredibly hard to make sure that everyone who has been a regular customer of Gompels can continue to access the stocks that we can buy in these difficult times.

“Stocks of PPE are at a record low in the UK and coronavirus has created massive demand for products that would not normally be widely used in a care setting. This has meant that the usual supply channels are unable to fulfil the requirements. Pandemic flu stocks have been released under the Department of Health & Social Care Covid-19: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Plan.

“These English pandemic flu stocks are mandated for supply to CQC [Care Quality Commission] registered settings operating in England. Currently there are only 3 products from over 2000 that this relates to. We continue to supply on a daily basis our full range (less these 3 products from Public Health England) to care providers in Wales and Scotland.”

Dr Donald Macaskill, chief executive of Scottish Care, who raised concerns Scottish care homes were not being supplied on advice from UK Government body Public Health England, welcomed the news after speaking to the firm’s boss Sam Gompels.

READ MORE: Jeane Freeman hits out at Westminster journalist over PPE story

He tweeted: “I have spoken to Mr Gompels from Gompels and clarified that his organisation will support delivery of #PPE to Scotland. Very grateful for the conversation.”

Earlier, Nicola Sturgeon accepted assurances from the UK Government PPE suppliers are not being ordered to prioritise the NHS in England over Scotland and Wales. Speaking on ITV, she said she was “willing to accept that assurance” but supply needs to be fair across the UK and also between the NHS and care sector.

She said: “There was a concern raised by the care home sector in Scotland that some of the usual suppliers of PPE were telling them that they couldn’t supply normally right now because they had been told that they had to prioritise the NHS in England.

“Now, that was obviously a concern for us. We’ve had assurances from the UK Government that that is not an instruction that’s been given from the NHS in England or Public Health England and I am willing to accept that assurance.

“But we still have an issue to try to resolve with the companies to make sure that they are dealing fairly with providers of care north and south of the border but also dealing fairly between the NHS and social care, because we all understand the importance of our health care workers, but social care workers are on the front line of this as well.”

She added: “PPE is under real pressure globally right now and we’re all working hard to try to make sure that there are sufficient supplies.”

In a call with the devolved administrations on Tuesday, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock promised the UK Government has not ordered England be prioritised.

Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman addressed the issue at a media briefing. She said: “Yesterday, the concern raised by Scottish Care was the orders which were due to be delivered in Scotland had been diverted elsewhere.

READ MORE: PPE firm says Public Health England said to prioritise England

“Later on yesterday, Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock assured me no matter what was happening, it was not at the direction of the NHS in England, Public Health England or his own department.”

She said Gompels had been asked to distribute pandemic stock by health authorities in England, adding “we have our own pandemic stock here in Scotland, our national procurement organisation NSS holds that”.

She added: “We’re still trying to be absolutely sure we’ve got to the bottom of this, that we can provide a reassurance to the members of Scottish Care their normal PPE providers and suppliers will continue to take their orders and supply them.”

She said the Scottish stockpile would provide “top-up” PPE to individual care homes.

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