UK missed three chances to bulk buy Covid-19 PPE

14 April 2020, 07:37

PPE has been one of the major issues throughout the Covid-19 crisis
PPE has been one of the major issues throughout the Covid-19 crisis. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

The UK missed three chances to be part of an EU scheme to bulk buy personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers, according to reports.

The availability of PPE has been a major issue during the coronavirus outbreak with one newspaper reporting Britain failed to use an EU initiative to obtain items such as masks, gowns and gloves.

Under a 25 country, EU scheme £1.3 billion-worth of coronavirus PPE will arrive with European medical staff within days or a maximum of two weeks, according to the Guardian.

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A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: "We are working round the clock with industry, the NHS, social care providers and the army to ensure the supply of PPE over the coming weeks and months and will give our NHS and the social care sector everything they need to tackle this pandemic - including working with countries around the globe.

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"We are also working with a number of firms to scale up production of existing UK ventilator manufacturers, as well as designing and manufacturing new products from scratch, and procuring thousands more machines from overseas.

"We will continue to work with European countries and others in order to make sure that we can increase the capacity within the NHS, and we will consider participating in future EU joint procurement schemes on the basis of public health requirements at the time."

At the daily Downing Street briefing on the coronavirus emergency on Monday, First Secretary of State and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the Government was trying to give frontline staff reassurance over PPE.

The comments came amid concern over a shortage of some supplies in parts of the country.

Mr Raab said: "We understand the importance of getting PPE to the frontline whether it's in care homes or the NHS.

"I think the strongest practical reassurance they will want and that we can give them is that over the Bank Holiday weekend over 16 million items were delivered and we are straining every sinew to roll them out even further and even faster."