App allows NHS staff to request free PPE – and have it delivered within 48 hours amid ongoing Covid pandemic

A NEW app allows frontline healthcare workers to request free PPE – and have it delivered within just 48 hours – to help ensure vital equipment gets to where it is needed.

Charity Frontline.Live lets NHS staff anywhere in the UK to report protective equipment shortages anonymously through its web-based app.

Frontline.Live works in partnership with charities, MedSupplyDrive UK, founded and run by doctors, and the Healthcare Workers’ Foundation, set up by NHS workers to deliver protective equipment.

They have supplied more than 400,000 items of PPE to healthcare workers in more than 700 organisations across the UK since the beginning of the Covid pandemic.

Digital expert and founder of Frontline.Live Katz Kiely said: “The idea behind it is to make sure that gaps are dealt with as soon as they appear.”

And as the UK daily death toll reaches a record high, they expect the figure to rise.

A recent survey by Frontline.Live reveals just eight per cent of doctors, nurses and care workers are confident they will get the PPE they need in the coming months.

Anonymous comments from the survey include,“We have run out of FFP3 masks already on our ward.” and “Masks that fit well enough to provide adequate protection are already running out.“

Katz, CEO of AI software company Beep, said: “NHS staff might have reported that they need PPE but it may be three weeks until they actually get it, which is not good enough.

“We can get it to them within 48 hours, which is amazing.”

Katz was inspired to set up the app in April last year after a conversation over zoom with a friend who is a nurse.

She said: “I was complaining I couldn’t get an online shopping delivery and that I would have to go out to the supermarket.

“She replied saying she was going to work tomorrow and they didn’t have any protective masks so be less worried about what you have got to go through.”

Her friend’s comments hit home and after reading countless reports of NHS staff being put at risk due to a lack of crucial protective equipment to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic, she was spurred into action.

Katz said: “I remember lots of companies were offering to donate or manufacture PPE for the NHS but the issue was how to get it to those who needed it.

“There was a story about someone from an organisaton trying to source protective equipment for an NHS trust apparently asking a BBC reporter for the factory phone number of Burberry, which had turned over its production to make PPE for healthcare workers.”

Katz decided to put her digital expertise to use and within a matter of weeks, Frontline.Live was launched.

The app is run by a team of 40 volunteers, all working remotely, and allows healthcare workers anywhere in the UK to report PPE shortages on the Frontline Live website or tweet their need using three hashtags: #FrontlineMap #postcode #PPEneed along with the postcode of the building or hospital they work in.

This then creates a live data map of what is needed and where and free PPE will be delivered to their building within two days.

The protective equipment is delivered by Hermes UK, which is partnering with PostTag, the technology company that specialises in guiding delivery drivers to exactly the right delivery location every time, guaranteeing quick delivery.

In the first three months alone, Frontline.Live received 1,500 requests, with 70 per cent of healthcare workers choosing to make their requests anonymously through the online form on their website.

Katz says she was overwhelmed by the response to the initiative, which she has since set up as a charity.

And she has vowed to continue to offer the service until it is no longer needed.

She said: “Our mission is to become redundant as quickly as possible.

"If frontline workers have everything they need to be safe, our job here is done."

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