Government has faced harsh criticism from doctors and health workers about the shortage of equipment, including masks, visors and gowns, and the suggestion that some items may need to be reused if supplies run out.
Paul Deighton, who was executive director of the London Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, was appointed by Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Sunday.
“He will lead a singular and relentless focus on PPE as the country’s top manufacturing priority, with all the weight of government behind him,” said Hancock.
Government and trade organizations have cited competing international demand for PPE from other countries affected by the global health crisis as the main reason for the shortage. Many items are mainly purchased in China.
Deighton’s unpaid role will be to increase production at the national level, where brands like Barbour and Burberry have already switched production lines from high-end fashion to PPE.
“Countries around the world are facing an unprecedented demand for personal protective equipment, which requires an equally unprecedented domestic response,” said Deighton.
(Reporting by William James; Editing by Mike Harrison)