‘UK missed three chances to join EU scheme to bulk-buy protective equipment’

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.

Britain failed to utilise opportunities to get items such as masks, gowns and gloves under an EU initiative, the Guardian stated.

The availability of PPE has been a major issue in the coronavirus outbreak.

European medical staff are set to receive the first of £1.3 billion-worth of PPE within days or a maximum of two weeks under the EU scheme involving 25 countries, according to the Guardian.

The supply of PPE has come under scruntiny, as there has been a shortage in some parts of the country. Credit: PA

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.

“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.

Dominic Raab said the government is trying to give frontline staff reassurance over PPE. Credit: PA

Thérèse Coffey, Work and Pensions Secretary, said eight million pieces of PPE had been delivered to over 26,000 care homes, homes care providers and hospices, but she said the UK is trying to produce more PPE, and "procure more from abroad".

But she added: "We have to prioritise the clinical use of PPE and making sure that we can get that to the frontline, of course care homes can go to wholesalers who are not discriminating between local NHS or local care homes in their sales of the products necessary."

At the daily Downing Street briefing on the coronavirus emergency on Monday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the government is 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 front line, 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.”

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