The PPE Shortage… a bit of background

The PPE shortage is not just a UK problem, it’s a global problem. 

The demand for the products is unprecedented across the globe not just here in the UK, so every buying department trying to acquire stock has an incredibly difficult task on their hands right now. I have tried to explain some of the challenges being faced and why we all need a bit of understanding at this time. 

The types of PPE products needed to protect workers against COVID19 are different to the daily garments required prior to the pandemic. Stocks of products such as aprons, coveralls, face masks, gloves, gowns are being used in far more volume than any of us are used to; there simply isn’t the stocks from which to draw.   Also, only some of the PPE available is actually suitable for medical purposes (i.e. FFP3 grade masks) but these items are being used in non-medical settings when actually a lesser grade (FFP2 mask) would be more than adequate.

Most of the UK stocks have been stripped bare by the NHS (rightly so) and we are now reliant on UK and global manufacturers to replenish stock here in the UK as quickly as possibleso our healthcare and key workers are protected. This is easier said than done; stock is being used as quickly as it’s being made and distributed.  

As we all know, UK manufacturing has been on the decline for years now, so unfortunately there isn’t the manufacturing infrastructure on which to help; another reason why we’re reliant on our overseas suppliers to get these urgent PPE products. 

As in importer and supplier of PPE we are facing the same issues as the NHS. 

Due to the urgency of the situation, the fastest way to get goods here is by airfreight, but the cost has risen to around £10 per kilo. Double the normal rate. We (TMD) have just flown 10,000 masks into the UK at a cost of £7,000, so you can imagine the extra costs facing the NHS to simply get the stock into the UK. That is once they have secured the goods from the factory’s in the first place. 

USA and other countries are demanding factories make solely for them. We are told that the face mask manufacturer 3M, which is an American owned company and has been told only to provide their masks to the USA.  

We also understand that Customs Clearence departments all over the world are intercepting consignments of PPE to use the products for their own countries.  

Supply and demand has seen prices quadruple for certain products. The factories are selling their products as fast as they are making them so the prices of PPE has risen sharply. So we (TMD) are having to make sure we are buying from the right manufactures to ensure quality and that we are not paying high prices for these essential products which are passed on to our customers. 

Fake goods are also flooding onto the market. So once again, please make sure you are buying products with the right certification and products that are certified for the right use. Otherwise these goods could be confiscated by customs before you receive them. 

100% Payment up front is now required for most orders so you will be taking a huge risk if you are not 100% sure of who you are buying from and that the products are exactly as you are expecting.  We are offering existing TMD Customers payment benefits. 

We are working with many organisations sourcing and supplying PPE from all over the world. If you need quality PPE sourced and supplied as quickly as the global market will allow, we would be pleased to be of service to you. 


James Taylor

Owner, Taylor Made Designs UK (Ltd)