Cover image: The NHS field hospital in Harrogate (Picture: Jude Media Agency). 

Coronavirus: Army Working With eBay To Help NHS Order PPE

Cover image: The NHS field hospital in Harrogate (Picture: Jude Media Agency). 

The British Army has teamed up with eBay to help healthcare workers find and order free personal protective equipment (PPE) amid the coronavirus crisis.

It comes as the country continues to search for more of the vital supplies, as the Government faces increasing criticism over the lack of PPE. 

The UK Vice President for eBay told Forces News the online portal had been set up as a result of a "Herculean effort" alongside the Army. 

"This is one of two major supply chains that's been stood up for PPE," said Robert Hattrell.

"I have worked in technology and retail for 25 years [and] I have never seen anything of this magnitude and complexity stood up in this space of time."

The portal can only be accessed by people on an NHS database of healthcare workers.

Medical staff can log on to the system and shop at no cost via the NHS' catalogue, according to the firm. 

The supplies are then delivered by logistics company Clipper Group and the Royal Mail. More than 42,000 pieces have been delivered during the portal's pilot phase.

While the portal is new, Mr Hattrell said it is based on existing technology.

Watch: Robert Hattrell speaks to Forces News' James Hirst.

"You take all the bits and pieces that you have and you put them and rewire them together," he said.

"You have very clever engineers who are capable of doing that, so you make it look brand new, but it's kind of using all the bits and pieces that you have already."

At the daily Downing Street press conference on Wednesday, the Chief of the Defence Staff praised one reservist, Major Eb Mukhtar, for his work in the portal's design, saying he had "really stepped up to the plate".

General Sir Nick Carter said Maj Mukhtar is a logistics expert whose day job is to run Google's transport network across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. 

"He has been part of the supply team that has been working on how we distribute PPE," Gen Carter said.

"He has designed an e-portal in partnership with eBay which will in due course manage individual customers and he designed a bulk supply chain for the distribution of PPE to all of the NHS regions and trusts."

Mr Hattrell said it was a new experience for his employees to work with the military and described it as a "fantastic experience" and an "honour" to work with the Major and his team. 

He added that within the "next few weeks" the portal should be serving all primary care services that need access to PPE.

Cover image: The NHS field hospital in Harrogate (Picture: Jude Media Agency). 

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