Doctors reacted furiously to the delay, demanding that ministers be held accountable for the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) forcing doctors to treat patients with an inadequate kit.
The latest fiasco came when it was revealed that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had chosen not to attend five emergency Cobra meetings at the start of the crisis.
The failure led leading doctors to describe ministers’ treatment of NHS workers as “shameful.”
The delivery of 84 tonnes of PPE, including 400,000 gowns, was promised on Saturday within 24 hours
by Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick at the daily press conference.
But it never happened, and Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said on Sunday that the RAF was ready to bring it from Turkey.
At information meeting No10, he said, “We hope it will happen in the country tomorrow. “
As Boris Johnson faced the fury of his chaotic crisis management and his inability to attend five Cobra meetings in January and February, doctors expressed dismay at the shipment of missing PPE.
BMA President Dr. Chaand Nagpaul said: “Doctors were counting on the government to announce an imminent additional supply of PPE from abroad.
“It really is a matter of life and death.
“Doctors and healthcare workers are afraid of their own health and safety – it is shameful.”
The number of hospital deaths has reached 16,060 today, with a daily increase of 596.
At least 50 NHS workers died from Covid-19 and on Saturday the Daily Mirror explained how hospitals feared they might run out of PPE over the weekend as Public Health England changed its mind to allow the reuse of gowns.
The Association of Hospital Consultants and Specialists said staff had to “sacrifice” themselves by working with the wrong kit, weeks after warning of the shortages.
The BMA said the manufacturers “hit a brick wall” when trying to offer PPE to the government.
HCSA Dr Claudia Paoloni said: “The government needs to be honest about PPE and explain how it intends to overcome this outrageous situation by actions, not by effects.
“We expect those responsible to be held accountable for their abject failure to protect our heroic front-line staff.
“The expression” lions led by donkeys “has never been more appropriate. “
Dr. Nagpaul said that doctors treating coronavirus patients are “extremely afraid”.
He said: “What is even more stressful is that doctors and other health professionals treat their colleagues in intensive care with ventilators and, tragically, see some of them not surviving. “
He said the BMA had written to the government two weeks ago to release the names of about 70 companies that could make PPE but “hit a brick wall” because they were not being followed.
He said, “We made it clear a few weeks ago that we need to do something to reduce the likelihood of a lack of PPE.”
Professor Neil Mortensen of the Royal College of Surgeons said he was “deeply troubled” by the advice on re-using PPE and advised surgeons “not to risk their health”.
At Briefing # 10, Assistant Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jenny Harries said, “Session use is entirely appropriate.
For example, wearing a session gown with a disposable plastic apron on top is a very appropriate use of PPE. “
Williamson dodged the reasons why more was not done to store PPE in February and March, and was unable to say why the government did not respond to manufacturers who were ready to produce PPE.
He said they would be contacted within 24 hours.
UK has missed a chance to participate in a large EU program to buy £ 1.3 billion of PPE, government says it has not received an email inviting it to join the program.
Meanwhile, Cabinet Minister Michael Gove confirmed today that earlier this year, the United Kingdom had sent 273,000 items of PPE to China, where the outbreak began.
But he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, “We have received a lot more from China than we have given. “
Authorities say 25 million dresses are on their way from China.
Earlier this year, many countries rejected China’s substandard PPE kit, while Britain received 3.5 million defective antibody test kits from the country.
Underlining the lack of proper safety equipment, Shadow Secretary of Health Jonathan Ashworth said: “MEPs are constantly passing on details of British companies proposing to make PPE.
“Ministers must take control.”
Paul Deighton, who led Olympic planning for the United Kingdom in 2012, now directs domestic PPE production.