Parliament returns on Tuesday amid mounting criticism of the Government over its failure to ensure NHS staff treating coronavirus patients have the protective equipment they need.
Ministers have insisted they are pursuing “every possible option” to secure additional kit but said with unprecedented worldwide demand, the situation was “very challenging”.
The first of three RAF flights finally left on Monday for Turkey to begin collecting a consignment of personal protective equipment (PPE) including 400,000 surgical gowns.
The Government said meanwhile that 140,000 gowns had arrived from Burma – but with the NHS using 150,000 a day, the demand on resources remains intense.
With fears staff in hospitals and care homes are risking their lives, the TUC called for an independent inquiry into the Government’s handling of the issue to be mounted before the end of the year.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Every day frontline workers are being forced to risk their lives because they don’t have the proper protective equipment.
“This is a grotesque failure of planning and preparedness. It must never be allowed to happen again. Our NHS, social care and key workers deserve better.”
It comes as:
- Shadow Cabinet Office minister Rachel Reeves accused the Government of ignoring offers from British manufacturers to fill the gap
- Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents hospitals and NHS trusts in England, warned the NHS’s supply of face masks could be jeopardised if the Government begins advising the public to wear them, saying “clear evidence” would be needed before advice was changed
- The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, Sage, which advises the Government, will reportedly consider the evidence at a meeting on Tuesday
- Manjeet Riyat, the first Sikh to work as an A&E consultant in the UK, was named among the latest healthcare workers to die after contracting Covid-19.
The warnings over PPE came as the latest official figures showed a total of 16,509 patients had died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Sunday, up by 449 on the previous day.
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