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Iran Press TV

Government confirms 400,000 Turkish gowns are useless for NHS

Iran Press TV

Thursday, 07 May 2020 1:51 PM

The UK government has said that the 400,000 surgical gowns flown in from Turkey by the RAF do not meet British safety standards.

A spokesman for the Turkish company which supplied the goods, Mehmet Duzen, from Selegna Tekstil, told the BBC the company had not had any communication from the NHS, the British embassy in Ankara, or British government officials complaining about the quality of its gowns.

"The fabric we supplied was certified. All the goods were certified," he said, adding that they were ready to respond if there was a mistake.

As much as half of the consignment of personal protective equipment (PPE), outsourced to Turkey, was flown to the UK by the RAF last month, but has not been given to NHS workers and is now stuck in a warehouse.

PPE is essential for protecting front-line workers exposed to Covid-19, and without it workers are afraid they could contract or spread the virus.

Amid a row over the procurement of PPE in April, the government announced it had managed to source a large supply from Turkey.

The RAF was deployed to Istanbul to fly it back to RAF Brize Norton on 22 April after many delays in its arrival.

How much PPE was on board the plane is unclear, however, the craft used has a maximum cargo load of about 40 tons, about half of the consignment.

The government confirmed that all of the surgical gowns delivered were unusable because they did not meet the required criteria - as was first reported by the Daily Telegraph.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, representing health and care leaders, said the shipment from Turkey had been "sizeable" but had only offered a few days supply.

He told the BBC Radio 4's Today programme that NHS bosses were well aware that the quality of equipment is "not always what it says in the box" but cautioned that not keeping promises "undermines confidence" in the government among frontline staff.

He added that supplies were now "generally better" in hospital but that care homes and GP surgeries still face "some difficulties".

Last week, the Department of Health asked hospitals not to order their own PPE but to to rely on the government's national procurement scheme.

But Mr Dickson warned that further delivery problems would encourage some NHS organisations to continue to place their own orders.

In a statement, the Department of Health and Social Care said there were shortages of PPE around the world, not just in the UK.

"We are working night and day to source PPE internationally and domestically and brought together the NHS, industry and the armed forces to create a comprehensive PPE distribution network to deliver critical supplies to the frontline," a spokesperson said.

"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."

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said it was "reassuring" that British experts were "ensuring the best quality of equipment", when he was asked about the order from Turkey.

He told BBC Breakfast that the government was "working through" a list of about 10,000 UK-based firms which have offered to make PPE, and had received 250,000 gowns from Northern Ireland.

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