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Ministers accused of IGNORING offers of equipment, letting hundreds of thousands of items go ABROAD

The military has blasted the NHS for the ‘appalling’ handling of distributing PPE.

The armed forces are currently helping get vital equipment to frontline staff.

It came as ministers were accused of ignoring offers of equipment and letting hundreds of thousands of items go abroad despite the urgent need for PPE in the UK.

The government is facing an onslaught of questions over the shortage of the vital equipment desperately needed by frontline healthcare workers. 

Last night a senior army source told The Times that vital items of PPE equipment were being assigned to hospitals without recognition of differing levels of need.

They said: ‘We know how knackered their [NHS Logistics] are but we’ve been surprised we’ve not been called in to help more, and we’ve been surprised by their failure to ration [kit].’

 It also emerged  a number of businesses have come forward to say they want to help provide PPE to fight the pandemic, but say they have been ignored, burdened by red tape, and that equipment is now being sent abroad. 

Last night it was claimed the procurement process has been so ponderous the government missed opportunities to get at least 16million face masks in the past four weeks, as reported by The Guardian. 

8,000 companies so far have offered PPE in the UK, but the government has only engaged with around 1,000 firms – while an RAF plane is still grounded in Turkey waiting to pick up key supplies.

Medical staff put on their personal protective equipment (PPE) at an MOT testing centre in Belfast, Northern Ireland, which is being used as a drive through testing location for Covid-19

A defence logistics boss, who does not want to be named, said he offered the government offered tens of millions of vital pieces of PPE equipment, such as gowns as gloves, over a month ago.

But since then the offer has been stuck in red-tape, so suppliers in Turkey have asked him for help in fulfilling their orders, as reported by The Sun.

He told the newspaper: ‘It’s absolutely staggering.

‘We’ve got contacts all over the world and we’ve spent more than four weeks trying to offer tens of millions of items of PPE to the Government. 

‘Then, over the weekend, we get a call from Turkey saying they’re desperate, they need the kit.

‘When I heard the Turks were on the phone while our RAF plane was sitting on the runway, I nearly fell off my chair.’

An RAF plane collecting the vital equipment is still grounded in Turkey today with ministers admitting the desperately-needed supplies might not be in the UK for days

An RAF plane collecting the vital equipment is still grounded in Turkey today with ministers admitting the desperately-needed supplies might not be in the UK for days

It comes after another day of chaos in the government’s supply of PPE to frontline workers.

An RAF plane collecting the vital equipment is still grounded in Turkey today with ministers admitting the desperately-needed supplies might not be in the UK for days.

The government originally declared that the 84 tonnes of life-saving equipment would arrive on Sunday, but it failed to turn up. 

They then claimed it would arrive yesterday, but the first military flight sent to pick it up has yet to start the journey back. 

Another British firm, Printers Prime Group, of Nottingham, may be forced to sell 500,000 visors abroad because the government has not ordered any, as reported by The Mirror.

Instead the firm – who have taken on extra staff to make more visors – have been dealing with individual NHS Trusts.

The company contacted officials more than a month ago but have still not received an order, despite involving £250,000 in materials.  

Owner Jon Tolley told the newspaper: ‘I have the material to make another 500,000. I have to decide whether to sell that material to Europe as there is demand. They are already making our designs.’ 

The 47-year-old started making the visors in the first place because he wife, an intensive care nurse, told him of the shortages.

He added: ‘My wife had a shift in March and told me they were running desperately low on PPE’ 

‘We have had nurses contacting us in tears saying ‘please help, we are desperate’.

And Volker Schuster, the owner of the Merseyside-based chemicals firm EcoLogix, told The Guardian he wrote to the government about supplying 10m FFP2 masks that were ready to ship within a week. 

Military blast NHS for ‘appalling’ handling of PPE distribution

The military has blasted the NHS for the ‘appalling’ handling of distributing PPE.

The armed forces are currently helping get vital equipment to frontline staff.

A senior army source told The Times that vital items of PPE equipment were being assigned to hospitals without recognition of differing levels of need.

They said: ‘We know how knackered their [NHS Logistics} are but we’ve been surprised we’ve not been called in to help more, and we’ve been surprised by their failure to ration [kit}.’

They came back to him eight days later, but which time the masks had already been sold elsewhere. 

It came on the same day a senior civil servant has been forced into an embarrassing U-turn after claiming ministers took a ‘political decision’ to deliberately snub an EU scheme to buy PPE.

This afternoon Sir Simon McDonald told MPs it had been a ‘political decision’ by the Government not to take part in Brussels-orchestrated efforts to bulk-buy personal protective equipment (PPE) because ‘We left the European Union on January 31’.

But this evening he wrote to the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee to admit Boris Johnson’s ministers were not briefed on the EU scheme because of a ‘communication problem’. 

Veenak International Ltd, distributes pharmaceutical products across the UK and Europe, also claims they have been ignored by the government.

The Birmingham-based firm has PPE stock in its warehouses from China, but just last week it was shipped abroad to EU countries

The Birmingham-based firm has PPE stock in its warehouses from China, but just last week it was shipped abroad to EU countries

A message from China on the PPE that has landed in the UK and is then being shipped back out again to other countries

A message from China on the PPE that has landed in the UK and is then being shipped back out again to other countries 

The Birmingham-based firm has PPE stock in its warehouses from China, but just last week it was shipped abroad to EU countries.

The owners told the Daily Telegraph they had ‘no choice’ to sell the equipment after not hearing anything from the government. 

Shan Hassam, chief executive of Veenak International, said: ‘We stand ready to prioritise our British customers if given the opportunity to do so.’  

Health Secretary Matt Hancock in the daily press conference said there is a ‘global shortage’ and it is a ‘fast moving market’ 

He said: ‘We’re always trying to improve the processes that we have in place to make purchases. We want to engage with all those companies who can help us in this national effort and we are accelerating the progress of getting back to all those companies with a substantive response. 

‘This is a fast-moving market. There is a global shortage … and that means we need to be as nimble as we possibly can.’

With fears that staff in hospitals and care homes are risking their lives, the TUC called for an independent inquiry into the Government’s handling of the issue to be mounted before the end of the year.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘Every day frontline workers are being forced to risk their lives because they don’t have the proper protective equipment.

‘This is a grotesque failure of planning and preparedness. It must never be allowed to happen again. Our NHS, social care and key workers deserve better.’

 

 

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