LONDON, March 23 (Reuters) - Britain said it was ramping up its provision of protective equipment to healthcare workers fighting the spread of coronavirus, and bringing in the army to help with deliveries, after struggling to get enough supply to hospitals.
The distribution and delivery of millions of items of personal protective equipment (PPE) including masks will now be carried out by the army who will drive trucks throughout the day and night, health minister Matt Hancock said in a statement.
Millions more items have been provided to hospitals, ambulance trust, GP practices, care homes and other health services in the last few days, he added, after complaints emerged from medical staff that they did not have enough kit.
The authorities have released protective kit from the national stockpile reserved for pandemic influenza, said the joint statement from the department of health and National Health Service on Monday.
They said that supply of protective equipment was rising.
“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,” Hancock said.
There was now enough supply of PPE available, added the statement, but acknowledged that there could be challenges in future due to unprecedented global demand plus the fact that most kit is made in China, where coronavirus hit production.
“The NHS is working closely with the government, NHS Supply Chain and industry to continue to secure additional supplies,” the authorities said in a statement. (Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Kate Holton)