Army staff blast NHS for ‘appalling’ fiasco over distributing protective kit


The health service has been unable to effectively ration and share PPE between hospitals, according to military sources.

Military personnel has been “appalled” by NHS planning

A senior army source claimed critical protective kit was sent out to hospitals without any thought into which needed them most, according to The Times.

The armed forces are helping with the distribution of equipment and planning across seven hubs, but those within the military think their expertise should have been called upon more.

The source said: “We know how knackered their (NHS logistics) system are, but we’ve been surprised we’ve not been called in to help more.

“And we’ve been surprised by their failure to ration (kit).”

The source said some hospitals have ended up with more PPE than they need, while others are struggling to get the basics, because of failures in the planning.

It is understood that commanders think the army’s COVID Support Force should take the lead on the allocation of PPE, because of their expertise in planning and logistics.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “The MoD understands just how challenging logistics can be, especially under current pressures.

“Of course there may be frictions at a local level, but those same armed forces are doing everything possible to support their health colleagues. The MoD has full confidence in the NHS.”

The problem goes much deeper than logistics, as the Government continues to come under criticism for under-supply of PPE.

An RAF plane carrying an 84 tonne shipment of PPE for the NHS finally arrived from Turkey this morning, after days of delays.

But it is not known if the consignment includes surgical gowns – an essential piece of equipment for health care workers.

The shortage of gowns is one of the most urgent problems, as the NHS goes through 450,000 a day.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said last night: “Protective equipment delivery is an operation of unprecedented scale and complexity.

“We are constantly working to improve that delivery, buying from around the world and working to make more here at home.

“We are working day and night to expand the supply base.”

Mr Hancock said the Government had been forced to get in touch with owners of factories directly, instead of dealing with middlemen, in order to get a stable supply of PPE.

Many of those factories are in Asia, including China.

The Government is also expected to be advised that the general public should wear face masks if they do have to go out.
There is a concern that even if people are told to wear non-medical facial masks, there could be a rush on supplies desperately needed by the NHS.

The Government has also been accused of wasting time in ramping up domestic production of PPE, after failing to respond to manufacturers’ offers to help make medical gowns for a month.

Several domestic companies, with the capability to make medical-grade PPE, offered to make millions of masks, but by they time they got a response they had sold the equipment to other countries.

Infectious disease specialists Landcent said it could have supplied six million masks if the Government had place an order when it first offered help at the end of March.

Mr Hancock said 8,331 companies had offered PPE, but after checks only 159 of those had the capability to make what was needed.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents hospitals and trusts in England, said the supply of gowns and visors was crucial.

He said this was because “the reserve was configured for a winter flu as opposed to coronavirus type pandemic”.

He added: “There was meant to be an order of 200,000 gowns from China last week and only 20,000 arrived.”