An urgent shipment of personal protective equipment (PPE) may be delayed further, the government has said.
The 84-tonne shipment of PPE from Turkey, which includes 400,000 surgical gowns, was due to arrive yesterday, but was delayed, as we covered in our morning briefing. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said this morning that he expected the flight to take off this afternoon, but later rowed back his comments, saying that the government was merely “hopeful” it would arrive today.
“The latest information I have is that we are hopeful that the flight will take place this afternoon. But obviously I want to be very cautious about making promises on this that that can’t be kept,” he said. “There’s some challenges at the Turkish end in terms of getting the relevant paperwork and other related issues but we are very hopeful that later today, we will get that flight from Turkey.”
The chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, said this morning that he has “relatively low confidence” it would arrive today. “Bitter experience over the last few weeks has shown than until a consignment of gowns has actually landed, that the boxes have been checked and the equipment’s been tested, the NHS simply can’t count on the gowns being available at the front line.”
Surgical gowns are the PPE items in shortest supply. Before the weekend, some NHS trusts said they would run out within days.