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RAF plane collecting crucial PPE for coronavirus battle is STILL grounded in Turkey and might not return for 'days' – amid claims MILLIONS of pieces of vital kit are being shipped from the UK to the EU

RAF plane collecting crucial PPE for coronavirus battle is STILL grounded in Turkey and might not return for 'days' – amid claims MILLIONS of pieces of vital kit are being shipped from the UK to the EU
  • RAF plan collecting crucial PPE from Turkey still grounded days after ministers made promises over supplies
  • Claims that millions of pieces of equipment are still being exported from the UK to the EU despite shortages
  • Chancellor Rishi Sunak insisted the government is pursuing 'every possible option' to boost PPE supplies
An RAF plane collecting crucial PPE for the coronavirus battle is still grounded in Turkey today with ministers admitting the desperately-needed supplies might not be in the UK for days.  
The government originally declared that the 84 tonnes of life-saving equipment would arrive on Sunday, but it failed to turn up. They then claimed it would arrive yesterday, but the first military flight sent to pick it up has yet to start the journey back.  
Ministers have blamed 'challenges at the Turkish end' for the issues - but Istanbul has retorted that the UK only requested help with the consignment on Sunday.  
With some hospitals resorting to washing medical gowns for reuse and doctors warning they might have to stop treating patients, ministers have been desperately playing down expectations about the shipment.  
Asked about the situation, communities minister Simon Clarke told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'It will be with us obviously in the UK in the next few days, which is the core priority.' 
The row widened today amid claims that millions of pieces of PPE are still being shipped out of the UK in spite of the shortages.   
A British supplier of PPE told the Mail they were forced to sell millions of life- saving items overseas after attempts to equip the NHS were met with an ‘impenetrable wall of bureaucracy’.
The company said the UK procurement system was ‘unresponsive at best or incompetent at worst’ and delays were putting lives at risk.
Other firms told the Telegraph they had 'no choice' about sending masks, respirators and other pieces of kit abroad because the Government had repeatedly ignored offers of help.  
Only one of the three RAF planes earmarked for the job has left RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, to collect PPE from Turkey - but it is reportedly yet to start the return journey. Pictured: Military C-17 aircraft sitting at RAF Brize Norton
Only one of the three RAF planes earmarked for the job has left RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, to collect PPE from Turkey - but it is reportedly yet to start the return journey. Pictured: Military C-17 aircraft sitting at RAF Brize Norton
Chancellor Rishi Sunak tried to dampen the anger of healthcare bosses last night, telling the regular Downing Street briefing that government is pursuing 'every possible option' around the world in order to secure more PPE
The 84 tonnes of life-saving equipment set to be used in the NHS's fight against coronavirus, had been due to arrive in Britain last night but it failed to be delivered with RAF planes now being tasked with going to get it. Pictured: RAF Brize Norton
The 84 tonnes of life-saving equipment set to be used in the NHS's fight against coronavirus, had been due to arrive in Britain last night but it failed to be delivered with RAF planes now being tasked with going to get it. Pictured: RAF Brize Norton
Mr Clarke said there is a 'standing presumption' that the Government will do its utmost to buy PPE 'wherever it can be sourced' and urged manufacturers to 'reach out' to the Cabinet Office to log their ability to make equipment.
But shadow Cabinet Office minister Rachel Reeves told Today programme she had been 'inundated' with manufacturers who have contacted the Government offering to make PPE but have heard nothing back.
'There are many, many businesses around the country who have perhaps furloughed workers but have the capability and the capacity and the skills to make this personal protective equipment and clothing - particularly the gowns - but have not heard back from the Government.
'Some of them are doing it on an ad-hoc basis for local hospitals or care homes, but this needs to be systematic - it needs to be a national effort, using all of our manufacturing and textile capacity and capability to ensure that the doctors and nurses and care workers ... have that equipment and clothing that they need.'
Chancellor Rishi Sunak told the regular Downing Street briefing last night that government is pursuing 'every possible option' around the world to bolster supplies. 
Mr Sunak said the UK and other countries are facing an 'international challenge' to source the equipment and that ministers are 'working hard to get the PPE our frontline NHS and social care staff need'.
He said Britain is still 'working to resolve the Turkish shipment of PPE as soon as possible' but was unable to say when it will arrive. He did reveal a shipment of 140,000 gowns from Myanmar was unloaded in the UK yesterday.
One of three RAF jets that have been on standby left Brize Norton in Oxfordshire yesterday afternoon, but has reportedly yet to start the return journey.  
Officials in Istanbul told Sky News there was 'never a problem from Turkish authorities' and 'all permissions have been issued very swiftly'. 
The hold-ups come with hospitals warning they are close to running out of some items, and medical bodies saying doctors could need to make 'difficult decisions' between exposing themselves to the virus or 'letting a patient die on their watch'.  
Trusts have accused ministers of raising the hopes of health staff saying they had 'bitter experience' of promised PPE either failing to arrive, or turning out to be either faulty or the wrong kit.  
Michelle van Vuuren, who runs a London-based property company, turned her business into a PPE distributor working with Chinese suppliers last month as the virus began to spread around the world.
After failed attempts to contact NHS procurement services, Miss van Vuuren contacted Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s office on March 20.
She was subsequently passed to the Cabinet Office but her inquiries went ‘into a vacuum’ and were met with only an automated response.
The Deputy Chief Medical Officer faced an angry backlash yesterday after she claimed that people are not being 'adult' about PPE supplies. 
Dr Jenny Harries slapped down critics of the government's efforts to make sure frontline workers have access to the gowns, gloves and masks they need to protect against coronavirus.
She said there needed to be a 'more adult, and more detailed conversation about PPE supplies' as she insisted the UK was an 'international exemplar in preparedness'.
But healthcare chiefssaid they had been 'sounding the alarm' on the apparent lack of PPE available in some settings 'for months'.  

UK's 'impenetrable wall of bureaucracy' stops firm supplying PPE 

Amid growing frustration, the Government said it had deployed ‘every resource’ to get its hands on desperately needed PPE supplies and ventilators in recent months. NHS staff are pictured carrying out coronavirus tests in Lincoln
Amid growing frustration, the Government said it had deployed ‘every resource’ to get its hands on desperately needed PPE supplies and ventilators in recent months. NHS staff are pictured carrying out coronavirus tests in Lincoln
A British supplier of protective health equipment was forced to sell millions of life- saving items overseas after attempts to equip the NHS were met with an ‘impenetrable wall of bureaucracy’.
The company said UK procurement system was ‘unresponsive at best or incompetent at worst’ and delays were putting lives at risk.
The embarrassing revelations will raise questions about why the Government did not replenish PPE stockpiles and build up more supplies in March as the country entered the crisis.
Amid growing frustration, the Government said it had deployed ‘every resource’ to get its hands on desperately needed PPE supplies and ventilators in recent months.
But the supplier trying to sell millions of masks, gowns and aprons yesterday said it had spent ‘five weeks hammering at the Government’s door’ without response.
Michelle van Vuuren, who runs a London-based property company, turned her business into a PPE distributor working with Chinese suppliers last month as the virus began to spread around the world.
After failed attempts to contact NHS procurement services, Miss van Vuuren contacted Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s office on March 20.
She was subsequently passed to the Cabinet Office but her inquiries went ‘into a vacuum’ and were met with only an automated response.
The death toll of frontline NHS and care home staff, from heart surgeons and nurses to porters and volunteers, has now reached at least 80. Pictured (left to right): Habib Zaidi, 76, GP from Essex; Adil El Tayar, 63, Hereford doctor; Pooja Sharma, 33, Sussex pharmacist; Amged El-Hawrani ENT expert, Burton
The death toll of frontline NHS and care home staff, from heart surgeons and nurses to porters and volunteers, has now reached at least 80. Pictured (left to right): Habib Zaidi, 76, GP from Essex; Adil El Tayar, 63, Hereford doctor; Pooja Sharma, 33, Sussex pharmacist; Amged El-Hawrani ENT expert, Burton
Pictured (left to right): Thomas Harvey, 57, London nurse; Alfa Saadu, 68, Essex doctor; Mohamed Shousha 79, London medic; Lynsay Coventry, 54, Essex midwife
Pictured (left to right): Thomas Harvey, 57, London nurse; Alfa Saadu, 68, Essex doctor; Mohamed Shousha 79, London medic; Lynsay Coventry, 54, Essex midwife
Pictured (left to right): Aimee O’Rourke, 39, Kent nurse; Liz Glanister, 68, Liverpool nurse; Areema Nasreen, 36, Walsall nurse; Consultant Anton Sebastianpillai
Pictured (left to right): Aimee O'Rourke, 39, Kent nurse; Liz Glanister, 68, Liverpool nurse; Areema Nasreen, 36, Walsall nurse; Consultant Anton Sebastianpillai
Pictured (left to right): John Alagos, 23, Watford nurse; Glen Corbin, 59, from London; Rebecca Mack, 29, nurse, Morpeth; Janice Graham, 58, nurse, Scotland
Pictured (left to right): John Alagos, 23, Watford nurse; Glen Corbin, 59, from London; Rebecca Mack, 29, nurse, Morpeth; Janice Graham, 58, nurse, Scotland
Pictured (left to right): Rahima Sidhanee, 68, London nurse; Josiane Ekoli, 55, Harrogate nurse; Cheryl Williams, ward housekeeper; Ade Raymond, London nurse
Pictured (left to right): Rahima Sidhanee, 68, London nurse; Josiane Ekoli, 55, Harrogate nurse; Cheryl Williams, ward housekeeper; Ade Raymond, London nurse
Pictured (left to right): Maureen Ellington, Bristol nurse; Gladys Nyemba, Nottingham nurse; Andy Treble, 57, Wrexham hospital; Lourdes Campbell, 54, Bolton NHS
Pictured (left to right): Maureen Ellington, Bristol nurse; Gladys Nyemba, Nottingham nurse; Andy Treble, 57, Wrexham hospital; Lourdes Campbell, 54, Bolton NHS
Pictured (left to right): Amrik Bamotra, 63, Ilford hospital; Brian Darlington, 63, Crewe porter; Julianne Cadby, 49, NHS manager; Linnette Cruz, 51, dental nurse
Pictured (left to right): Amrik Bamotra, 63, Ilford hospital; Brian Darlington, 63, Crewe porter; Julianne Cadby, 49, NHS manager; Linnette Cruz, 51, dental nurse
Pictured (left to right): London GP Syed Zishan Haider, 79; Jitendra Rathod, 58, surgeon, Cardiff; Alice Kit Tak Ong, 70, London nurse; Leilani Dayrit, 47, Rugby nurse
Pictured (left to right): London GP Syed Zishan Haider, 79; Jitendra Rathod, 58, surgeon, Cardiff; Alice Kit Tak Ong, 70, London nurse; Leilani Dayrit, 47, Rugby nurse
Pictured (left to right): Barbara Moore, 54, Liverpool; Edmond Adedeji, 62, locum, Wiltshire; Fayez Ayache, 76, GP in Ipswich; Carol Jamabo, 56, carer in Bury
Pictured (left to right): Barbara Moore, 54, Liverpool; Edmond Adedeji, 62, locum, Wiltshire; Fayez Ayache, 76, GP in Ipswich; Carol Jamabo, 56, carer in Bury
Pictured (left to right): Carer Catherine Sweeney, 64; Donald Suelto, London nurse; Urologist Abdul Chowdhury, 53; Julie Omar, 52, nurse in Redditch
Pictured (left to right): Carer Catherine Sweeney, 64; Donald Suelto, London nurse; Urologist Abdul Chowdhury, 53; Julie Omar, 52, nurse in Redditch
Pictured (left to right): Elsie Sazuze, 44, carer, Cannock; Gareth Roberts, 63, Cardiff nurse; Sara Trollope, 51, London matron; Amor Gatinao, 50, London nurse
Pictured (left to right): Elsie Sazuze, 44, carer, Cannock; Gareth Roberts, 63, Cardiff nurse; Sara Trollope, 51, London matron; Amor Gatinao, 50, London nurse
Pictured (left to right): Donna Campbell, 54, from Cardiff; Elbert Rico, 52, porter in Oxford; Oscar King Jr, 45, porter in Oxford; Elvira Bucu, 50, care worker
Pictured (left to right): Barbara Sage, 68, Bromley, London; Dr Krishan Arora, 57, London; Sonya Kaygan, 26, care worker; Jenelyn Carter, 41, Swansea nurse
Pictured (left to right): Barbara Sage, 68, Bromley, London; Dr Krishan Arora, 57, London; Sonya Kaygan, 26, care worker; Jenelyn Carter, 41, Swansea nurse
Pictured (left to right): Michael Allieu, London nurse; Radiographer Simon Guest; Wilma Banaag, 63, Watford hospital; Gilbert Barnedo, 48, London nurse
Pictured (left to right): Michael Allieu, London nurse; Radiographer Simon Guest; Wilma Banaag, 63, Watford hospital; Gilbert Barnedo, 48, London nurse
Pictured (left to right): Michael Allieu, London nurse; Radiographer Simon Guest; Wilma Banaag, 63, Watford hospital; Gilbert Barnedo, 48, London nurse
Pictured (left to right): Rajesh Kalraiya, 69, consultant, Romford; Steven Pearson, 51, nurse, Cumbria; Linda Clarke, 66, Wigan midwife; Emily Perugia, 29, carer, London
Pictured (left to right): Rajesh Kalraiya, 69, consultant, Romford; Steven Pearson, 51, nurse, Cumbria; Linda Clarke, 66, Wigan midwife; Emily Perugia, 29, carer, London
Pictured (left to right): Barry England, 999 paramedic; Gordon Ballard, manager, London; Mandy Siddorn, 61, technician, Chester; Unnamed at family’s request
Pictured (left to right): Barry England, 999 paramedic; Gordon Ballard, manager, London; Mandy Siddorn, 61, technician, Chester; Unnamed at family's request
Pictured (left to right): Carer Ruben Junior Munoz, Surrey; Andy Stamp, 65, IT admin, Liverpool; Margaret Tapley, 84, NHS nurse; Charles Tanor, 39, carer, West Mids
Pictured (left to right): Carer Ruben Junior Munoz, Surrey; Andy Stamp, 65, IT admin, Liverpool; Margaret Tapley, 84, NHS nurse; Charles Tanor, 39, carer, West Mids
Pictured (left to right): Gladys Mujajati, 46, Derby nurse; Care assistant Stephen Agyapong; Patricia Crowhurst, 54, Teesside care; Jane Murphy, 73, Edinburgh A&E
Pictured (left to right): Gladys Mujajati, 46, Derby nurse; Care assistant Stephen Agyapong; Patricia Crowhurst, 54, Teesside care; Jane Murphy, 73, Edinburgh A&E

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