Number 10 blames 'unexpected delays' as shipment of PPE from Turkey fails to arrive
Number 10 admitted the shipment of PPE from Turkey has not set off yet (PA)
The Government has blamed “unexpected delays” after a shipment of urgently-needed protective equipment for health workers failed to arrive.
Downing Street said the Royal Air Force is “on standby” to bring in around 84 tonnes of PPE amid criticism not enough is being provided to frontline NHS staff dealing with the coronavirus outbreak.
On Saturday Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick claimed the supplies were arriving in the UK that day - but 48 hours later the materials have yet to leave Turkey.
He said the order, which includes 400,000 gowns, was a “very significant additional shipment", but there have been suggestions it would only last around three days given the scale of the pandemic.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman on Monday said more than 12 million items of PPE had been delivered the previous day, and that the Government was “working round the clock” amid “unprecedented global demand” to get the items needed to safeguard staff from Covid-19.
“On Turkey we are working to ensure that shipment is delivered as soon as it's ready,” he added.
"There were some unexpected delays to that over the weekend, but as [culture secretary] Oliver Dowden pointed out this morning we are also receiving shipments of PPE regularly from suppliers here in the UK and overseas.
“To date we've delivered more than one billion pieces of protective equipment to the frontline.”
And he said the “the RAF is on standby to take off as soon as the shipment is ready” - which Mr Dowden suggested will be on Monday afternoon.
But Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, told the BBC he had "relatively low confidence" the delayed delivery would now arrive on Monday.
The PM's spokesman said it was “the job of Government and our absolute priority to ensure that frontline staff have the equipment they need”.
But he admitted there have been difficulties in getting enough supplies to where they are needed.
"We are doing all we can to source more,” he added.
“Turkey is not the only place in which we’re seeking to secure gowns and other PPE. We’re working with countries around the world and UK producers."