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PM ‘focused on PPE’ in first Cabinet after return to work

Boris Johnson used his first meeting of the Covid-19 Cabinet since his recovery from coronavirus to focus on personal protective equipment

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A nurse prepares to take a sample at a COVID 19 testing centre (PA)

A nurse prepares to take a sample at a COVID 19 testing centre (PA)

A nurse prepares to take a sample at a COVID 19 testing centre (PA)

Securing more personal protective equipment was top of the agenda for the Prime Minister as he returned to work, his spokesman said.

The Government is facing considerable criticism over shortages of the equipment needed to keep staff safe on the front line as they care for Covid-19 patients.

But Health Secretary Matt Hancock said officials were “moving heaven and earth to get the amount of PPE that we need to the front line”.

And Downing Street said Boris Johnson used his first meeting of the Covid-19 war Cabinet since his recovery from coronavirus to focus on the need to secure PPE supplies.

It comes after the nation fell silent for a minute on Tuesday morning to remember key workers who have lost their lives after being diagnosed with Covid-19.

And the death toll among frontline health and care workers surpassed 100, according to figures from the PA news agency.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said PPE was the issue he focused on at the meeting on Monday morning.

Nobody should put their lives at risk because they haven't got the right protective equipmentLabour leader Sir Keir Starmer

The Government defended its record on PPE, following a critical BBC Panorama investigation, with the Prime Minister’s spokesman saying “we have been working to secure gowns and other PPE from across the globe – and domestically – for a number of months”.

Some 12 million items of PPE were delivered on Monday to 227 trusts and care settings, including gloves, aprons, three different types of masks, eye protectors and gowns.

Earlier, Sir Keir Starmer said “too many” frontline workers have died during the fight against coronavirus “and we owe them a huge debt”.

In a video message, the Labour leader said: “Nobody should put their lives at risk because they haven’t got the right protective equipment.

“We owe it to them to make sure that we’ve got the right equipment, in the right place at the right time, and we will continue to press on that.”

Later, Mr Hancock told the Downing Street press briefing: “As you know, we’ve been we’ve been moving heaven and earth to get the amount of PPE that we need to the frontline, both buying it from abroad, and also then distributing it, that system is getting stronger all the time, but it is a mammoth effort to do.

“What we do have is constant focus on the realities of getting PPE to the front line, and we take full responsibility for getting it to every single person who needs it.”

Earlier Mr Hancock was urged to issue a public apology over PPE issues by the son of a doctor who died after warning the Government about a lack of the equipment.

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Dr Abdul Mabud Chowdhury died after warning the Government about a lack of PPE (Golam Rahat Khan/PA)

Dr Abdul Mabud Chowdhury died after warning the Government about a lack of PPE (Golam Rahat Khan/PA)

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Dr Abdul Mabud Chowdhury died after warning the Government about a lack of PPE (Golam Rahat Khan/PA)

Intisar Chowdhury, the son of Dr Abdul Mabud Chowdhury who died earlier this month after being diagnosed with Covid-19, challenged the Health Secretary during a live phone in on LBC.

Five days before he was admitted to hospital, Dr Chowdhury, 53, wrote a Facebook post asking Mr Johnson to urgently provide every NHS worker with PPE.

“We took very, very seriously what your father said and we’ve been working around the clock to ensure that there’s enough protective equipment and in the case of anybody who works in the NHS or in social care and has died from coronavirus we look into it in each case to find out the reasons where they might have caught it and what lessons we can learn,” Mr Hancock said.

PA