Coronavirus: UK in ‘far worse’ position than most of Europe on key lifesaving equipment senior chairman warns

Chairman of the British Medical Association has warned Britain is in a “far worse” starting position than most of Europe regarding key healthcare equipment.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul said ministers had to explain how they plan to drastically ramp up the number of ventilators after a decade of under-funding has left the nation drastically under-equipped.

The ventilators are an essential part of treating those with severe cases of Covid-19 when sticky mucus envelopes the patient’s lungs preventing them to breathe.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock stated, “We will buy it – no number is too high,” in an appeal to manufacturers to turn their hand to making more.

The government have come under fire from the doctors’ union and the Labour Party for their handling of the situation.

Labour shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth said: “I just need to understand better why the government is taking a different approach, based on its science, from other countries.”

“I think that’s why it is so important that all the scientific modelling for example is published.”

He added: “If things have changed since the prime minister’s press conference on Thursday then the prime minister should be doing another press conference today and explaining why things have changed.”

DR Chaand says: “Our starting position unfortunately has been far worse than many other of our European nations.”

“We have about a quarter of the critical care beds that Germany has, as an example.”

“So it’s really critical, it’s really important that we now see transparently what plans the government has to expand that capacity.”

He blamed “a decade of under-funding” and called on the prime minister to announce major new steps on ending non-urgent care and telling health consultants to work from home.

Doctors are “very worried” because they only have paper masks of “low effectiveness” and not “adequate protections”, Dr Chand added.

He also called for medics to be tested for COVID-19 to stop them having to self-isolate for seven days.

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