UK faces new delays for hospital gowns from Turkey

Delivery of 84 tonnes of protective equipment was due to arrive on Sunday

COVENTRY, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 20: The supply of personal protection equipment (PPE) that is hoped will last three to four weeks is seen in a temporary storeroom during a shift at the Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance base at Coventry Airport on April 20, 2020 in Coventry, England. The pandemic has had a significant impact on the Air Ambulance Service charity, which receives no government funding, but currently continues to provide vital critical care support to the NHS frontline thanks to public donations. The charity relies on public support to sustain itself but is set to experience substantial losses due to the closure of its retail division, the suspension of its reuse kerbside collection service and the postponement of its door-to-door lottery canvassing. As the country went into lockdown, many fundraising events and initiatives were also cancelled, resulting in an expected net loss of over £2M for the months April to June. The British government has extended the lockdown restrictions first introduced on March 23 that are meant to slow the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
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The UK government faced further criticisms over its ability to protect frontline medical staff after a shipment of medical equipment from Turkey was delayed.

Cabinet Minister Robert Jenrick on Saturday announced a “very significant additional shipment” of 84 tonnes of gowns and other protection equipment to arrive over the weekend but still has not arrived.

The government has come under sustained criticism for poor planning to confront Covid-19. The announcement at the weekend was designed to head off complaints that too little was being done to protect frontline staff.

At least 100 health and care workers have died, according to a nursing website, although the government has confirmed 27. The shipment from Turkey was due to include 400,000 gowns, which are running out in some hospitals, say officials.

Minister Simon Clarke told the BBC: “It will be with us in the UK in the next few days.”

Officials on Friday changed guidance to medical staff in the face of the shortages, which included the reuse of some of gowns.

Unions representing health workers said some may choose not to work because of the shortages. “If gowns run out, staff in high risk areas may well decide that it’s no longer safe for them to work,” said Unison head of health Sara Gorton.