Coronavirus: Top doctor apologises to NHS staff over protective equipment delays

James Morris
Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
Dr Jenny Harries apologised over PPE on Tuesday. (PA Video/PA Images via Getty Images)

One of the government’s top doctors has apologised to NHS staff over delayed distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the coronavirus crisis.

Dr Jenny Harries, the deputy chief medical officer for England, admitted there had been issues with the delivery of PPE, offering “my apologies” as the “distribution element has been a little bit tricky at times”.

As reported by Yahoo News UK two weeks ago, one GP in the Midlands was so concerned at the lack of PPE that he took matters into his own hands by starting a fundraising campaign to purchase equipment himself.

Ultimately, 2.5 million aprons, 870,000 eye protectors, 218,000 respiratory masks, one million surgical masks and 11 million gloves were delivered to NHS trusts on Monday.

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Referring to the initial distribution problems at the government’s daily coronavirus press briefing in Downing Street, Dr Harries said: “The distribution element has been a little bit tricky at times and we have now taken a whole strand of the logistics – including with the army’s support actually – out, so that we are developing a UK position on that stock and distribution flow.

“And the underlying critical point about this is that the PPE should go to match where the critical, clinical risk is.”

Dr Harries, who said UK stocks of PPE are among the best in the world, added she understood the fears of healthcare workers: “We have colleagues, friends and family working on the frontline and are very attuned to how it feels.

“Just as it does for the rest of the public, this can feel quite frightening at the moment and if you are continuously seeing patients coming through the door, that is particularly the case.”

She added the government is “continuously checking” PPE guidance and “creating an e-system” which will make it easier for care homes, for example.

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