The delivery of personal protective equipment (PPE) from Turkey to the UK has been delayed, the government said.
Cabinet Minister Robert Jenrick said Saturday that 84 tonnes of PPE would arrive on Sunday after admitting it was “in short supply” in some areas.
A government spokesman confirmed the delay on Sunday, saying he was trying to “ensure the shipment is delivered as soon as possible.”
A source told the BBC that she hopes it will happen in the next few days.
The commitment to take delivery of more PPE came after warnings that critical care units in some hospitals may run out of gowns over the weekend.
Niall Dickson, director general of the NHS Confederation, said the shipment only contained “a few days of supply” – and although “it may be enough to avoid an absolute crisis this weekend … it doesn’t not solve the problem in the longer term “”.
Public Health England changed its mind on Friday to allow the NHS to reuse gowns if the stock was low, saying that a “compromise” was needed “in case of an extreme shortage.”
NHS England Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis said that for advice on the use of protective equipment to be properly followed, it was “absolutely essential above all that we have the PPE supplies coming out in the first line “.
But some front-line workers say they don’t have the equipment they need.
Cabinet Minister Michael Gove said the UK had stockpiled PPE while awaiting an influenza pandemic – as well as preparing for the possibility of a Brexit without a deal – but he said said there was “global pressure” on supplies.
However, he told BBC Andrew Marr that the additional resources will come from Turkey “this weekend,” along with 25 million more dresses from China.
Shadow Secretary of Occupational Health Jon Ashworth said “the government has made serious mistakes” in fighting the epidemic.
He told Sky News, “We know our front line NHS staff don’t have PPE, they were told this weekend that they wouldn’t necessarily have the gowns they need to keep themselves safe . “
The government has appointed Lord Deighton, who chaired the London Olympic Organizing Committee, to resolve the supply and distribution of PPE.