NEWS COVID-19: How construction is supporting the health sector

The COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to cause concern for buyers, suppliers and other stakeholders working in the procurement landscape. However, there are numerous ways in which new and existing suppliers to the construction industry can help. Public health is the UK Government’s priority, and the construction industry plays an essential role in ensuring hospitals, clinics, GP surgeries and NHS trusts have all the resources they require to protect their staff and save lives.

The Government has already asked the construction industry to support its response to COVID-19, which the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said would be a “national effort”. Construction suppliers are among those who have been called upon to help with the production of equipment and materials in the following areas:

  • Protective equipment for healthcare workers, such as masks, gowns and sanitiser
  • Hotel rooms
  • Transport and logistics, for moving goods or people
  • Manufacturing equipment
  • Warehouse or office space, for medical use or storage
  • Expert advice or consultancy on IT, manufacturing, construction, project management
  • Social care or childcare
  • Community support

If your organisation can offer help in any of these areas, visit the gov.uk website. It is worth noting that public sector spending will not stop during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are thousands of construction tenders available and Tracker is publishing tender opportunities every day which can help in the Coronavirus response effort.

Changes to construction sites

Hygiene measures implemented by the Government mean there have been significant changes to construction site practices. In line with the advice of the World Health Organization (WHO) and scientists, the Government has implemented precautions designed to reduce the potential spread of the virus including advice that people stand two metres apart in outdoor spaces, including construction sites. The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said, “The judgement we have made is that in work [on construction sites], in many instances, the 2 metres rule can be applied.”

This is good news for necessary construction projects that are assisting with the fight against COVID-19, such as supporting the supply of resources, equipment and spaces. Already in East London, one of the worst hit areas of the outbreak in the UK, the ExCel Exhibition Centre has been changed into a makeshift field hospital. With the help of the military and construction suppliers, an initial 500 beds equipped with ventilators and oxygen have been transported, but it is hoped that the ExCel Centre will eventually be prepared to treat 4,000 patients.

The Government is expected to look for more possible sites to change into temporary NHS facilities, to relieve pressure on current NHS hospitals and increase patient capacity. In the meantime, crucial construction works, including maintenance and estates work will continue where possible, as normal. The construction industry will continue to support the health sector where possible; efficient, effective and collaborative procurement will be at the heart of making this happen.

Changes to procurement regulations

Tracker has been bringing suppliers and buyers together in public and private sector procurement for more than 20 years, and our collaboration with both sectors is more important now than it ever has been.

If you want to find out more information on how procurement regulations have adapted for suppliers and buyers due to COVID-19 outbreak, our sister brand, Procurement and Support Service (PASS), has published a series of documents that outline the Government’s Procurement Policy Notes. Read them here to understand how they can help your organisation.

For other information on the COVID-19 response and sectors working together, read our blog.

Mar 27, 2020.

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