Gloves and other pairs of PPE supplies sometimes counted TWICE in official figures, Gov admits


Downing Street confirmed earlier that gloves can be counted as one, two, or four in a spiralling row over personal protective equipment.

Ministers admitted they did sometimes count gloves as single ones, rather than a pair

It came as part of a BBC Panorama documentary last night which said some items were counted individually, rather than as a pair.

That could make the PPE numbers for the equipment dished out appear higher than they actually were.

But some healthcare professionals came out to say that many gloves were normally counted individually.

Billions of bits of protective equipment has been sent out since the pandemic began, but doctors and NHS staff in some places are still saying they are short.

The Government today admitted different gloves were counted in different ways.

“It’s not even that simple, The Prime Minister’s spokesperson said.

“Gloves are counted differently depending on clinical settings, sometimes they’re single, sometimes pairs and sometimes fours for clinical reasons.

“It is not correct to say they’re counted individually, they’re counted in a number of different ways.”

Meanwhile, the BBC report also found key items of PPE were not included in the government’s pandemic stockpile when coronavirus reached the UK.

BBC Panorama reported that gowns, visors, swabs and body bags were left out of the stockpile when it was set up in 2009. Some of the items are now in short supply.

Ministers say they have shipped out billions of pieces of PPE in the last month and a half

A Government spokesman told the programme the expert committee that advises ministers on new and emerging respiratory virus threats, known as Nervtag, did not recommend stockpiling swabs and body bags.

They said the stockpile was designed for a flu pandemic, and Covid-19 has a higher hospitalisation rate.

Downing Street said this lunchtime: “We have been working to secure gowns and other PPE from across the globe and domestically for a number of months.

“There were 12 million deliveries yesterday, to 227 trusts and settings and that included gloves, aprons, three different masks, eye protectors and gowns.

“At the morning meeting yesterday Boris did focus on delivery of PPE.”

Professor John Ashton, a public health expert and long-standing critic of the government, told the programme the lack of preparation was breath-taking.

“The consequence of not planning, not ordering kit, not having stockpiles is that we are sending into the frontline doctors, nurses, other health workers and social care workers without the equipment to keep them safe.”

Today’s figure on the graph just shows deaths in England

Health Secretary Matt Hancock claimed last night that 98 frontline staff have died.

Others put the figure at 137 and many families said their deaths were caused by a lack of adequate PPE.

In last night’s Downing Street briefing, Mr Hancock announced a life assurance scheme to pay £60,000 to the families of those frontline NHS and social care workers who have died in the course of their duties.

Panorama: Has the Government Failed the NHS?, is available on iPlayer.