Building self sufficiency

Ivan McKee, Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation in the Scottish Parliament, has issued a report Coronavirus (COVID-19): report on Personal Protective Equipment supplies: Supporting our Front Line Services and Building Self Sufficiency which details the problems faced by the huge increase in demand for PPE caused by the Covid19 pandemic and how the Scottish Government has dealt with it. The report is not long and it’s well worth reading to see the rocketing demand that the Scottish NHS had to deal with and how the challenges have been met.

As well as chartering cargo planes to fly in seven planeloads of personal protective equipment (PPE) for the Scottish NHS, the Scottish Government has also sourced companies who could produce much of the items required in Scotland.

In his Ministeria Foreword to the report, Ivan says:

“As well as rapidly identifying offers of support which could supply us with high
volumes of approved PPE and sanitiser products in the fastest times, a multi-agency
team (including colleagues from the NHS, Scottish Enterprise, SDI, and the National
Manufacturing Institute Scotland, operated by University of Strathclyde) worked with
businesses to increase Scottish capacity to make key products. This has helped to
build resilience for any future crisis, and we are also moving towards self-sufficiency
in many key items of PPE and sanitiser, including several new domestic supply
chains established in record time.”

In a very short space of time many Scottish businesses have diversified their production lines, taken on and trained additional staff, and invested in new equipment to support the national effort and ensure a secure supply of NHS essentials.

“I am proud to see Scotland coming together in this way, using all levers
at our disposal. Great things can be achieved when the public and private sectors
collaborate to tackle the many challenges caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic.”

Ivan praises the tremendous progress that has been made within weeks, in complex areas, in order to meet demand, build resilience, reshore manufacturing activity, attract investment, identify new export opportunities and enhance self-sufficiency. To meet this huge increase in demand NHS National Services Scotland (NSS), a body which delivers services critical to front-line patient care to support the efficient and effective operation of NHS Scotland, has adopted a “make” and “buy”
strategy. Much PPE is bought/imported from Europe and manufacturing sites in Asia, leaving Scotland (and the rest of the UK) at the mercy of global shortages during a pandemic. Now Scotland will be self sufficient in many products.

With thanks to Lindsay Bruce for use of his graph that illustrates so clearly the huge increase in demand for PPE due to the Covid 19 pandemic.

This concerted effort by public and private sector bodies and businesses has involved one company reshoring mask manufacturing from Taiwan, and providing another with a £3.6 million repayable grant towards the £4.5 million purchase, import and installation of new machinery to manufacture the necessary raw material in Scotland. Innovative work is also underway to improve the fit of some masks. Two manufacturers of nitrile gloves are being supported to consider Scotland as a manufacturing location as they look to begin UK glove production.

The Scottish Government is fortunate in having a minister of Ivan’s ability and expertise in business to make this a possibility ensuring the availability of these necessary items now and into the future. In many areas these new supply chains are expected to be able to meet all of Scotland’s demand using Scotland-based manufacturers, which also means additional jobs. Scotland will also have the capacity to help supply other parts of the UK and other countries with the PPE they need.

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