Army to distribute masks and protective suits to NHS staff on coronavirus frontline – The Sun

THE Army is being brought in to distribute masks and protective suits to NHS staff on the coronavirus frontline this week.

Hospital trusts have been told they will be receiving deliveries of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, safety glasses, gloves, aprons and protective suits "around the clock".

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It comes after NHS staff warned they did not have the correct equipment to protect themselves as they treat hundreds of patients with Covid-19 – which has infected 5,683 people and caused 288 deaths in the UK.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock today revealed that army trucks will deliver the equipment to "all who need it".

Hospital trusts and other healthcare organisations are being told that while the aim is to deliver supplies in usual working hours, given the volume and scale of the operation, they will also receiving deliveries at evenings and weekends.

Mr Hancock said: "In the face of this unprecedented global emergency, never has the need to bolster our workforce and arm them with the vital tools they need to save lives been more crucial.

"We are taking urgent action to ensure dedicated frontline NHS and social care staff – who are working tirelessly to tackle this outbreak – feel supported. Today they are getting millions more PPE kits as part of that promise.

"We are working round the clock to make sure trucks are on the ground across the country delivering protective equipment to all who need it, so they are well-equipped to continue to fight the virus.”

Over the last three days, NHS England said "millions more items" of PPE had been delivered to hospitals, ambulance trusts, GP practices, pharmacists, care homes and hospices.

Mr Hancock told Sky News a PPE shipment was sent to every hospital over the weekend and he is making sure "there is a constant flow" but trusts need to let him know if there are gaps.



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"We've absolutely got to look after the doctors, nurses – all of the health staff – the paramedics for instance and in social care," he said.

"As Health Secretary I feel a really deep responsibility to look after those who are caring for the nation and we've therefore brought in a new logistics effort to get this protective equipment out to everybody.

"Over the weekend we sent a shipment of protective equipment to every hospital but I want to know where there are shortages because it's a huge operation.

"There's been a very rapid increase in the use of this equipment which is totally understandable and we've got a huge operation with millions of masks being shipped every day to make sure they get to the frontline.

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"But my message to every single person who works in the NHS is that we are so grateful for the work you are doing and we've got to look after you."

NHS England said the Army would "play its part" from this week, offering personnel to "help to manage and offload supplies in busy NHS settings" and distributing PPE supplies to the front line.

They added that the coronavirus epidemic is generating unprecedented global demand on the supply chain, combined with manufacturing slowdown in affected countries, especially China which manufactures a large amount of PPE.

Emily Lawson, chief commercial officer for the NHS, said: "We need massively increased, urgent volume of these supplies to the frontline in this exceptional set of circumstances.

"Working with our partners, we are now seeing much increased capacity, and a more responsive supply chain to help take us through the coronavirus outbreak. We are extremely grateful for the Army's support in doing so."

The Army's involvement comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson is attempting to rush stringent new laws on coronavirus through the House of Commons in a day, as the UK faces the prospect of a total lockdown in the next 24 hours.

MPs are returning to the Commons after the weekend to debate the government's Coronavirus Bill in all its stages, before it goes to the House of Lords and becomes law by the end of this week.

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