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  3. Washable PPE could save NHS £180 million a year

The government is trialling the use of washable PPE (personal protective equipment) in the National Health Service (NHS) to address stockpiling and sustainability issues.

Parliamentary under-secretary of state for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), Lord Nicholas Markham, estimates that replacing disposable PPE with reusable PPE can save £180 million a year. He said:
“The trials have shown that this is something we should be doing. It has shown big savings —about £180m a year in procurement—so there is a very good case to do it.”
Using washable PPE throughout the NHS will take a while to implement. Laundry facilities need to be installed. Contracts for procuring single-use PPE are in force until 2024 and excess PPE stocks need to be used first before buying reusable PPE.
Lord Markham said that savings can be made by using less PPE. For example, he believes that half of the disposable glove use is unnecessary. Staff requires training on when to use PPE. He also wants local supply chains established with more PPE manufactured in the UK. A balance needs to be made between stockpiling PPE for emergencies and having too much surplus PPE.
Many organisations outside of the NHS require PPE to protect workers’ health and safety. Some PPE is washed and reused, but disposable PPE is still used. To make single-use PPE more sustainable, many companies send used PPE to recycling companies that extract materials from PPE for use in manufacturing new products.



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