Portions of Turkish PPE shipment below UK safety standards
The UK government has admitted that around 400,000 protective gowns brought in as part of a PPE shipment from Turkey are unusable since they do not meet British safety requirements, verifying reports from the Telegraph.
The shipment was brought in by the RAF in April after numerous delays. It has not been passed on to NHS frontline workers and remains in storage.
A Department of Health & Social Care spokesperson said: "We are working night and day to source PPE internationally and domestically and brought together the NHS, industry and the armed forces to create a comprehensive PPE distribution network to deliver critical supplies to the frontline.
"All deliveries of PPE are checked to ensure the equipment meets the safety and quality standards our frontline staff need. If equipment does not meet our specifications or pass our quality assurance processes it is not distributed to the front line."
It is not yet known whether the government will pursue a refund from suppliers.
Also unknown is the total quantity of PPE within the shipment, but the government has confirmed that all of the surgical gowns within it did not meet safety requirements.
Speaking to the BBC about the Turkish shipment, Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis said that it was “reassuring” that Britain’s health experts were “ensuring the best quality of equipment” only was being sent to frontline workers.
Lewis added that the government had received 250,000 protective gowns from Northern Ireland and was currently going over a list of some 10,000 domestic firms who had contact them with offers to redirect their production lines to manufacture PPE.
Meanwhile, Niall Dickson, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said that the supply from Turkey that was safe to use would only cover a number of days.
He told BBC Radio Four that NHS figureheads understood that the quality of equipment is “not always what it says on the box" but warned that confident in the government among frontline staff would be undermined if it continues not to deliver on its promises of PPE provision.
Dickson said that PPE supply in care homes and GP surgeries is still facing "some difficulties", but provision in hospitals was now "generally better".
The Department of Health & Social Care has requested that hospitals source PPE through the government’s procurement scheme, rather than acquiring their own. However, Dickson warned that some NHS organisations will simply order in their own supplies if the government continues to encounter problems.