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UK not working with EU to secure more ventilators

Downing Street said more than 3,000 businesses are currently working on producing and designing extra ventilators for the NHS.

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Gtech’s prototype ventilator (Gtech/PA)

Gtech’s prototype ventilator (Gtech/PA)

Gtech’s prototype ventilator (Gtech/PA)

The UK is not working with the EU to secure more ventilators for the NHS, but instead working to boost domestic production.

Downing Street was asked during a telephone conference call with reporters whether the Government was looking to partner with the Brussels scheme to procure more protective equipment and ventilators for the NHS, as it battles a growing number of coronavirus cases.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “I think the short answer to that is no.”

But Number 10 stressed that it is working with businesses currently manufacturing ventilators, as well as design companies, in order to increase the number of machines for those suffering from the most severe effects of coronavirus.

Dyson, the British company known for its vacuum cleaners and hand dryers,  has already confirmed it will step in to produce ventilators for the NHS.

Our focus is on supporting established UK manufacturers to increase production of already-approved machines to help them reach the NHS more quicklyPrime Minister's spokesman

Private hospitals last week struck a deal to supply almost 1,200 ventilators to the NHS, as the UK looks to increase availability from 8,000 to 30,000.

The PM’s spokesman told reporters on Wednesday: “We have been in discussion with over 3,000 businesses who have come forward to offer support, whether that be in design, in manufacturing or delivery.

“Our focus is on supporting established UK manufacturers to increase production of already-approved machines to help them reach the NHS more quickly.

“We have made the necessary specifications available online and have also been evaluating concepts and designs from businesses to understand other viable options for alternative models we could progress.

“We are testing proof of concepts from a number of suppliers with the support of a team of expert clinicians.”

Vets have also been asked to supply mechanical ventilators which are usually used on animals, with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) writing to practices to call for donations suitable for human use.

Vet ventilator
Vets are being asked to supply spare ventilators to the NHS (Findlay Kember/PA)

In a Facebook post, the RCVS issued an “urgent nationwide call for NHS-compatible ventilators and other equipment” that could be “vital in helping frontline medical professionals combat the coronavirus pandemic”.

Downing Street said 7.5 million pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) had been shipped to hospitals and healthcare workers in the past 24 hours alone.

The PM’s spokesman said: “We do of course recognise there are many people in the NHS who are asking for more equipment.

“The full weight of Government is behind the effort to deliver that to them.

“We are urgently working with industry, the NHS, social care providers and the Army to ensure the right equipment is delivered to the right people.”

A 24-hour NHS hotline is available for health and care workers to request PPE if they do not have adequate provision, the spokesman added.

PA