Doctor Nicky Longley, Infectious Disease Consultant at UCLH, puts on her Level 1 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, as the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases grow around the world, in London, Britain April 1, 2020

Dedicated eBay portal enables NHS to order crucial PPE items

Image credit: REUTERS/Dylan Martinez/File Photo

International e-commerce company eBay has built a new pilot e-portal for NHS staff to order protective equipment necessary to safely tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to eBay, it built the bespoke e-portal “within days” of being enlisted to support the NHS and that the pilot website was at the final stage of testing. The new site uses eBay’s marketplace technology to help primary and social care providers order such personal protective equipment (PPE) equipment.

The portal can only be accessed by people on an NHS database of healthcare workers who can log in and shop at no cost for a limited range of non-acute PPE items via the NHS Catalogue. The PPE is also being supplied by NHS Supply Chain via the Clipper Group and dispatched by Royal Mail, with more than 42,000 pieces being delivered in the pilot phase.

“We were asked by the NHS and other partners to deliver technical expertise and resources to address the pressing issue of PPE supply,” said Rob Hattrell, eBay’s UK vice president. “[Our] eBay software engineers from around the world, including at our sites in Portland in the US, Berlin in Germany and here in the UK, have been working round the clock to get this live and I’m delighted that we are now up and running with the pilot.”

Hattrell added that it was important that everyone does what they can to help the NHS at this critical time, expressing how eBay is excited to be a part of the project. The company said it had worked with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), Ministry of Defence (MoD) and NHS Supply Chain to create the new online portal and it was providing the service pro bono to the NHS.

General Sir Nick Carter, chief of the defence staff, said the armed forces were working with the NHS to tackle the shortage of PPE for health and social care staff. Speaking at the daily Downing Street press conference, Sir Nick said that one reserve Major was designing an e-portal in partnership with eBay to distribute protective equipment to health and social care workers.

“He has really stepped up to the plate – his daytime job is as a logistics expert who runs Google’s transport network across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East,” he added. “He has been part of the supply team that has been working on how we distribute PPE.”

Carter added that the reserve Major developing the e-portal in partnership with eBay - which will in due course manage individual customers - has also designed a bulk supply chain for the distribution of PPE to all of the NHS regions and trusts.

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