Coronavirus Tory failures: 278,800 items of protective kit go abroad, NHS goes without

PPE comparisons: now we know the Chinese equipment in this image probably includes items sent from the UK that could have been used to treat patients here – and may have saved both patients and NHS staff. Meanwhile… well, see for yourself how our people had to make do.

From a personal point of view, isn’t the most striking part of the Sunday Times piece on Boris Johnson’s failures the fact that he shipped 278,800 pieces of PPE (personal protective equipment) abroad when the UK needed it?

As a result, more than 50 NHS staffers have died.

The article states:

There was also a failure to replenish supplies of gowns and masks for health and care workers in the early weeks of February — despite NHS England declaring the virus its first “level four critical incident” at the end of January.

It was a key part of the pandemic plan — the NHS’s Operating Framework for Managing the Response to Pandemic Influenza dated December 2017 — that the NHS would be able to draw on “just in case” stockpiles of PPE.

But many of the “just in case” stockpiles had dwindled, and equipment was out of date. As not enough money was being spent on replenishing stockpiles, this shortfall was supposed to be filled by activating “just in time” contracts which had been arranged with equipment suppliers in recent years to deal with an emergency. The first order for equipment under the “just in time” protocol was made on January 30.

However, the source said that attempts to call in these “just in time” contracts immediately ran into difficulties in February because they were mostly with Chinese manufacturers who were facing unprecedented demand from the country’s own health service and elsewhere.

Downing Street admitted on February 24 — just five days before NHS chiefs warned a lack of PPE left the health service facing a “nightmare” — that the UK government had supplied 1,800 pairs of goggles and 43,000 disposable gloves, 194,000 sanitising wipes, 37,500 medical gowns and 2,500 face masks to China.

The man being touted as Rupert Murdoch’s apparent choice to replace Boris Johnson – Michael Gove – utterly failed to justify this decision in a TV interview on April 19:

It seems to This Writer that the simple fact is, he had nothing to say. You see, it had just been revealed that, after weeks of failure to get much-needed PPE back into the UK, the Tories had just failed to land another delivery:

A delivery of 84 tonnes of personal protective equipment for NHS staff, including 400,000 gowns, has been delayed.

The consignment, from Turkey, had been due to arrive in the UK today.

Stocks are reaching crisis levels in some hospitals after ministers admitted they could not guarantee supplies would last the weekend.

Doctors’ leaders today accused the government of missed opportunities to stockpile PPE, as ministers confirmed Britain sent a quarter of a million items to China in February.

It isn’t just Boris Johnson’s failure; it is a failure of the entire Conservative government. Getting rid of him won’t help – they all need to go.

Source: Coronavirus: Delivery of 84 tonnes of vital protective kit for NHS staff delayed | The Independent

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