TURKEY is supposed to have sent 400 thousand desperately needed gowns to the UK, but the order is delayed with tensions rising.
So where is it, has this happened before and what do our NHS heroes think about the situation?
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Has PPE arrived from Turkey?
No. It's still on its way.
The RAF has sent a plane out to collect it, but it's being repeatedly delayed.
It was supposed to be here on Sunday, but the latest update from the cabinet is that it will be in the UK “in the next few days” due to "unexpected delays"
Asked whether it had left Turkey yet, Local Government Minister Simon Clarke told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: “All I know is it set off last night (Monday). It will be with us obviously in the UK in the next few days, which is the core priority.”
The MoD said a cargo plane left RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire at about 4.30pm on Monday to collect the order.
Two more jets are on standby but sources say the full consignment is still not ready and may not arrive here until the end of the week.
The personal protective equipment is thought to be awaiting quality checks, although Turkey blamed the UK for the delay.
Why is there a PPE shortage in the UK?
There are around 1.6 million NHS staff, all of them need varying amounts of PPE depending on the type of work they do.
The NHS is thought to use around 150,000 gowns a day, and most PPE is single-use, meaning that any bottlenecks in supply can be catastrophic under current circumstances.
The UK lacks the production capacity to be self-sufficient, meaning that the government has had to buy internationally at a time of global shortage.
Ministers have recruited UK companies, like Burberry, to start making PPE. The government also says kit deliveries will now happen every day, rather than every few days.
NHS and social care workers can also call a hotline to request PPE.
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Is the UK sending PPE to other countries?
Yes, but it's not through lack of trying to sell to the NHS.
British firms claim they have "no choice" but to keep sending the equipment abroad because their offers of help are being ignored by the government.
Some companies have been sending PPE to other countries like Italy and China, but "stand ready to prioritise our British customers if given the opportunity to do so."
There seems to be a bureaucratic bottleneck and companies and medics themselves are finding ways to bypass the red tape and get the equipment straight to hospitals.
Dr Simon Festing, chief executive of the British Healthcare Trades Association, said “a number of our members” are continuing to sell PPE abroad after their offers to help the NHS were ignored.
He said: “It’s an extremely difficult time for businesses and if they can’t supply to the UK then their commercial arrangements are likely to continue."
What has the NHS said about the issue?
NHS leaders claim staff are going without PPE because foreign suppliers have let them down.
Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said huge orders for PPE were placed on January 30.
He added: “If those orders had actually come in to time and quality, then we wouldn’t have been in this position.”
Mr Hopson said the delayed delivery of 400,000 gowns was not the first time the NHS had been let down by suppliers.
He added: “Bitter experience over the last few weeks has shown that until a consignment of gowns has landed, the boxes have been checked and the equipment tested, the NHS can’t count on the gowns being available for use at the front line.”
One shipment from China was found to contain just 20,000 gowns when it should have had 200,000. Others have failed safety tests while some were mislabelled.
Fierce debate over what counts as proper PPE was reignited over the weekend with the general NHS consensus being that medics should not go into battle against the virus underequipped.
The British Medical Association, which represents doctors in the UK, criticised the advice that some single-use PPE could be reused.
Chair of the BMA consultants committee, Dr Rob Harwood, said: "If it's being proposed that staff reuse equipment, this must be demonstrably driven by science and the best evidence – rather than availability – and it absolutely cannot compromise the protection of healthcare workers."
Advice on proper gowns was issued without consulting medical bodies according to the Royal College of Surgeons of England who said they were "deeply disturbed" by the changing standards and slammed it as an "unacceptable" risk to the health of staff.
A BMA survey published on 18 April found that half of doctors working in high-risk areas reported shortages of long-sleeved disposable gowns and goggles.
The Royal College of Nursing says its members can refuse to treat patients as a "last resort" if adequate PPE has not been provided.
UK anaesthetic and intensive care bodies say doctors should carefully evaluate the risks before taking a decision about whether to provide care.
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