Matt Hancock appoints London Olympics boss as 'PPE tsar'

Matt Hancock appoints London Olympics boss Lord Deighton as ‘PPE tsar’ to sort out shocking shortage of supplies – as much-heralded RAF flight due to bring in 84 tonnes of gowns today is delayed

  • Lord Deighton has been appointed to tackle the supply issues with PPE 
  • RAF had been ready to send out equipment from Turkey but it is now delayed
  • Supply chains say government is making it impossible to buy correct items 
  • Michael Gove today admitted PPE was sent to China for Wuhan outbreak  

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has appointed a ‘personal protective equipment tsar’ to take on the shortage of supplies across NHS trusts in the UK.

Lord Deighton, 64, has been appointed to get a grip on the situation, as thousands of doctors and nurses across the country are being forced to work without the correct PPE. 

It comes after a shipment of 400,000 gowns that were set to be arriving from Turkey has been delayed.

The RAF had been ready to send out the equipment and it is not yet known what the delay is. 

Hancock had previously claimed there is enough PPE to go around, but a supplier of the products has claimed the government is making it impossible to buy the necessary supplies.

Despite the delay with the Turkish plane, the UK government has today received 10 million face masks from China.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock (left) has appointed Lord Paul Deighton (right) to help curb the shortage of PPE 

Crucial supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical staff are delivered from Turkey into a Royal Air Force base for distribution

Mr Hancock has now appointed the chief planner from the London 2012 Olympic games to head up a massive manufacturing effort of PPE.

Sources have claimed that Lord Deighton, who knows Prime Minister Boris Johnson well from their time working together on the Olympics, will be in charge of the  ‘end-to-end process of design through to manufacture, including streamlining approvals’.

Hancock said: ‘Just as Lord Beaverbrook spearheaded the wartime efforts on aircraft production, the appointment of Lord Deighton will bring renewed drive and focus to co-ordinate this unprecedented peacetime challenge.’ 

Speaking to The Times, Lord Deighton said he was confident the UK could ‘rise to the challenge’.

‘Countries around the world face unprecedented demand for personal protective equipment and this necessitates an equally unprecedented domestic manufacturing response.

Lord Deighton: The ‘PPE tsar’ set to end the shortage of equipment

Former Goldman Sachs banker Lord Paul Deighton has a breadth of experience dealing with government officials.

He was educated at Wallington Grammar School and also attended Trinity College in Cambridge, graduating in 1978 with a BA in Economics. 

Lord Deighton (centre) with deputy chairman Sir Keith Mills, (left) and chairman Lord Coe (right) after he was unveiled as the new Chief Executive of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Game

He started his career at the Bank of America before moving to Security Pacific National Bank where he worked on corporate banking.

He joined Goldman Sachs in 1983. 

From 1994 he spent two years at its New York office, before returning to London.

On his return he became a partner at the firm and was promoted to Head of European Operations. 

In 2000 he became the Chief Operating Officer for Europe. 

The 64-year-old worked extensively with Boris Johnson during the 2012 Olympic Games. 

Then in 2013 he became Treasury minister and was made a life peer. 

He was also knighted in the 2013 New Years Honors list. 

‘I look forward to bringing together new partners in the pursuit of this single goal: to get our dedicated frontline workers the essential equipment they need.’

Today Michael Gove confirmed that vital PPE supplies were sent to China at a time when the UK should have been stock piling the items.

Speaking on the Andrew Marr show today he admitted that this was the case, after denying several times that this had been done.

He said the UK had received much more PPE from China and that the UK had initially sent equipment during the worst part of of the outbreak in Wuhan.

He added: ‘All governments make mistakes, including our own. We seek to learn, and to improve every day. It is the case, I’m sure, at some point in the future that there will be an opportunity for us to look back, to reflect and to learn some profound lessons.’

A flight touched down at Glasgow Prestwick Airport yesterday carrying 10 million masks from China. 

The plane, operated by Air Bridge Cargo also delivered equipment for intensive care units that have been paramount fighting the coronavirus.

This is while government officials have been accused of being ‘too slow and bureaucratic’ when it comes to the procurement of PPE for NHS workers fighting on the front line of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Doctors claimed the delivery that was due to arrive from Turkey will not solve the shortage and that the supplies will last just a few days, when they finally arrive.

Pharmaceutical supplier Seren Plus claimed it was contacted three weeks ago by the NHS Supply Chain.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, Howard Amor said the NHS Supply Chain, the group that is in charge of buying equipment for the NHS, asked the company for help.

Seren Plus has more than 40 years of experience negotiating with Chinese supplies and Mr Amor claimed the team got to work and put quotes together for the group within three days.

He said there was no response and has been sending new quotes through every seven days due to the fluctuation in price.

‘The NHS is weeks too slow to compete adequately in this volatile market and against other buyers who are way more aggressive.

‘Foreign governments are paying cash to secure production capacity and stocks’.

He revealed that the UK government has offered to pay after 30 days, despite the market in China demanding payment upfront for the orders.

Mr Amor added that suppliers don’t have ‘adequate cash’ to finance a national crisis and added that the government ‘needs to find a solution’.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the British Medical Association council, said doctors are ‘extremely worried’ that they are not adequately protected.

Speaking to Sky News, he said: ‘But even more stressful now is that doctors and other healthcare workers are treating their own colleagues in intensive care on ventilators and tragically see some of them not survive.

‘This is extremely emotionally taxing and it’s showing its toll on the healthcare workforce.’

He said the Government was warned last weekend that there were ‘critically low shortages of full length gowns’.

He added: ‘At the beginning of the pandemic we were assured that we had sufficient stockpiles… and we believed that we were well catered for.’

‘We then heard that the issues were about operational deliveries,’ he added, stating that deliveries had been the cause of lack of supplies to the front line.

‘We’re not being given clear information,’ he said.

Dr Nagpaul said the BMA had written to the Government two weeks ago calling for a massive ramping up of the manufacturing of protective equipment.

He said large numbers of contacts were willing to produce equipment and names of around 70 of them were passed on to the Government.

But Dr Nagpaul said the contacts ‘hit a brick wall’ after they weren’t followed up.

He told Sky News: ‘We made it clear weeks ago that we need to do something about the likelihood of a lack of protective equipment.’

The government said it is processing offers from 6,000 suppliers and that it was working through these rapidly.

They added that they have delivered over a billion units of PPE to NHS Trusts across the country so far. 

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