The British authorities have confirmed that a shipment of personal protective equipment (PPE) from Turkey cannot be used because it doesn’t meet UK safety standards.
The 84-tonne shipment, including 400,000 medical gowns, has been impounded in a government warehouse near Heathrow Airport after inspectors said the consignment of PPE, which was flown into the UK by the RAF on 22 April, is faulty.
Shortages of PPE, vital for protecting frontline healthcare workers treating coronavirus patients, have plagued the government throughout the pandemic.
“We believed this equipment was going to be of the right standard, but when our experts here tested it, they found it wasn’t,” Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis told Sky News. “All the PPE that we acquire, we expect it to be of a standard that we set out when we purchase it.”
And the Department of Health and Social Care said in a statement: “This is a global pandemic with many countries procuring PPE, leading to shortages around the world, not just the UK. All deliveries of PPE are checked to ensure the equipment meets the safety and quality standards our frontline staff need. If equipment does not meet our specifications or pass our quality assurance processes, it is not distributed to the front line.”
The Turks have yet to comment on the issue but there is now the likelihood of a messy wrangle over who is to blame and whether Britain should get its money back.
The bad news comes as the UK became the first country in Europe to record more than 30,000 coronavirus deaths.
In an industry survey in late April, more than a third of British doctors said they did not have appropriate PPE.
Of those surveyed, 75% said they did not have long-sleeved gowns, while 38% said they lack eye protection, according to the survey by the Doctors Association UK.