Military to distribute protective equipment for NHS staff

23 March 2020, 07:29

The army will help get supplies to NHS workers
The army will help get supplies to NHS workers. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

The military are being brought in to help with logistics and distribution of supplies to frontline NHS staff who are fighting against Covid-19.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said there have been "challenges" with the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the coronavirus pandemic but that he was taking the issue "very seriously".

Mr Hancock said: "I am determined to ensure that the right kit gets to the right hospital, the right ambulance service, the right doctors' surgery, right across the country.

[LIVE NEWS: Coronavirus on Monday as it happens]

"There have been challenges and I can see that. We're on it and trying to solve all the problems."

Sky News reported that hospital trusts have been told they will be receiving deliveries of PPE such as masks, safety glasses, gloves, aprons and protective suits around the clock.

NHS England has said over the last few days millions more items of protective equipment has been delivered.

The move follows a letter in the Sunday Times over the weekend from thousands of NHS workers calling on Boris Johnson to "protect the lives of the life-savers" and resolve the "unacceptable" shortage of protective equipment.

Read more: Coronavirus symptoms - What are they and what is the risk of Covid-19 in the UK?

Read more: Coronavirus: Beard sanitiser sales spike after NHS urged staff to shave

The group said many medical workers are "putting their lives on the line every day" by treating coronavirus patients without appropriate protection, and they called on Mr Johnson to ensure an adequate supply of masks, safety glasses, gloves, aprons and protective suits.

NHS England said the army would "play its part" from this week, offering personnel to "help to manage and offload supplies in busy NHS settings" and distributing PPE supplies to the front line.

Read more: How long does Covid-19 live on surfaces, and is it safe to get overseas post?

There have been increased pressure on the supply chain of PPE owing to the outbreak of Covid-19 as well as the related manufacturing slowdown particularly in China, the NHS said.

Emily Lawson, chief commercial officer for the NHS, said: "We need massively increased, urgent volume of these supplies to the frontline in this exceptional set of circumstances.

Read more: Who is a key worker and what children are classed as vulnerable in UK school closures?

"Working with our partners, we are now seeing much increased capacity, and a more responsive supply chain to help take us through the coronavirus outbreak. We are extremely grateful for the army's support in doing so."