The UK has missed three opportunities to participate in an EU program to purchase huge quantities of personal protective equipment (PPE).
The EU has ordered 1.5 billion euros (£ 1.3 billion) in protective masks, gowns and gloves for doctors and nurses – but Britain has not taken part in the purchasing talks.
Some 25 European countries and eight companies are involved in the joint PPE supply program and the first deliveries could be received in a few days, The Guardian reported.
A spokesperson for the commission said the joint program has resulted in offers of protective equipment exceeding the amount requested.
However, the UK will not benefit from the PPE as it has not participated in any of the three wholesale rounds launched by the EU in February.
The government previously said it was unable to join EU procurement systems because it had not received an invitation email.
A PPE healthcare professional, including gloves, eye protection and a face mask as a precaution against Covid-19, carries a tank when a patient is transported from an ambulance to St Thomas Hospital in the north london
But Whitehall officials would not have realized until after the three towers had been tendered that they had not received an invitation to join the steering committee of the joint procurement agreement where the orders are organized.
After informing the European Commission that the invitation emails were being sent to an obsolete address, the United Kingdom finally participated in its first meeting on joint PPE purchases on March 19.
However, UK officials did not follow up on the meeting and were not present on March 25 when participating countries were asked to describe their needs for future purchases by the next day.
The revelations come as anger grows over shortages of PPE in Britain.
Scottish soldiers prepare to test NHS workers for coronavirus in Glasgow, April 9
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab acknowledged yesterday that PPE shortages – rather than distribution problems only – were an issue and admitted that supplies were declining due to “a competitive market there.” low”.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health said, “We work 24 hours a day with industry, the NHS, social service providers and the military to secure the supply of PPE for weeks and months.” to come and give our NHS and the social care sector everything they need to fight this pandemic – including working with countries around the world.
They added that the department “will consider participating in future EU joint purchasing programs based on the public health requirements of the time.”