Barber A, Vinzent A, Williams I
J Emerg Manag 18 (7) 71-89 [2021-11-02; online 2021-11-02]
The COVID-19 crisis placed extraordinary demands on the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) at the beginning of 2020. These were coupled with shocks to the supply chain resulting from the disease. Many typically well-resourced health systems faced subsequent shortages of equipment and had to implement new strategies to manage their stocks. Stockpiles of protective equipment were held in both the United States and United Kingdom intended to prevent shortages. Cross-comparative case study approach by applying Pettigrew and Whipp's framework for change management. The health systems of England and New York state from January 2020 to the end of April 2020. Both cases reacted slowly to their outbreaks and faced problems with supplying enough PPE to their health systems. Their stockpiles were not enough to prevent shortages, with many distribution problems resulting from inadequate governance mechanisms. No sustainable responses to supply disruptions were implemented during the study period in either case. Health systems planned interventions along each part of the supply chain from production and importing, to usage guidelines. Global supply chains are vulnerable to disruptions caused by international crises, and existing mitigation strategies have not been wholly successful. The existence of stockpiles is insufficient to preventing shortages of necessary equipment in clinical settings. Both the governance and quality of stockpiles, as well as distribution channels are important for preventing shortages. At the time of writing, it is not possible to judge the strength of strategies adopted in these cases.