31 January 2020

A UK representative joins EU member states and commission officials to discuss “the cluster of pneumonia cases associated with novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China”. Four countries indicate a potential need for personal protective equipment (PPE) “in case of an expanding situation in the EU”. They do not include the UK.

4 February

EU countries share observations on the state of supplies of PPE in a meeting of officials from member states and the World Health Organization. An official from the UK attends the meeting in Luxembourg.

24 February

A meeting of officials, to which the UK was invited, hears an update from the European commission on the joint procurement of PPE. Commission officials call on countries to confirm “their exact needs latest today … to move forward with next steps”. No representative from the UK attends the meeting.

28 February

The EU launches its first joint procurement of £1.2m worth of gloves and gowns/overalls. The UK is not one of the 20 member states involved.

12 March

The procurement fails due to a lack of suitable suppliers. It is relaunched on 15 March. The UK is still not involved.

17 March

The EU launches two more rounds of joint procurement for masks and goggles and ventilators. The UK is not one of the 25 member states involved.

19 March

The UK belatedly takes up an invitation to join the joint procurement agreement steering committee, which makes decisions on mass purchases. The UK does not join a procurement for laboratory supplies that is put out to tender on the same day.

23 March

The health secretary, Matt Hancock, admits there have been “challenges” with the supply of PPE after complaints by doctors and nurses around the country. He drafts in the army to help with distribution.

24 March

No 10 says it has not joined EU procurement schemes as the UK is not in the EU and is “making our own efforts”. The government later U-turns to say it failed to receive an email inviting it to be part of the initiative.

25 March

Health officials from EU countries convene an audio meeting. Representatives of the member states raise the possibility of further procurements and are asked to inform the commission by the following day about their requirements. The UK has been invited to join the meeting, but no representative takes part.

26 March

The government says it has 8,175 ventilators, but turns to British industry to help produce 30,000 in a matter of weeks. The engineering company Dyson reveals plans for an entirely new medical ventilator working to specifications set down by the government.

29 March

The death of two surgeons from Covid-19, the first doctors to die from the disease, intensifies the pressure on ministers to accelerate the supply of PPE.

10 April

Hancock calls on workers to “treat PPE as the precious resource it is” following weeks of criticism, leading to claims that he is blaming medics for shortages.

11 April

Hancock confirms 19 deaths among healthcare workers from coronavirus, a day after it was claimed in the daily Downing Street press conference that it would be inappropriate to provide such information. Priti Patel, the home secretary, offers what critics call a non-apology, saying she is “sorry if people feel there has been a failure to supply sufficient PPE”.

13 April

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, says gaps remain and calls for the government to publicly acknowledge the problem and the reason for it. Dominic Raab, deputising for the prime minister, admits to supply problems, saying there is “a competitive market out there”, but declines to apologise.


Daniel Boffey Brussels

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Medical unions warn UK stock of protective gowns is critically low
Doctors performing highest-risk procedures on Covid-19 patients lack vital supplies

Robert Booth and Diane Taylor

13, Apr, 2020 @5:46 PM

Article image
'They can't get away with this': doctor who took protest to No 10
UK health workers’ deaths could be avoided with adequate PPE, says Meenal Viz

Carole Cadwalladr

20, Apr, 2020 @4:50 PM

Article image
There are so many Covid patients, younger this time. But my hospital is full | Anonymous
There can be no debate: this is now much, much worse than the first wave, says this NHS consultant

The Secret Consultant

07, Jan, 2021 @12:47 PM

Article image
NHS must close gender gaps and prioritise staff wellbeing - Hancock
Health secretary urges more flexible working while promising to boost staff numbers

Jessica Elgot Chief political correspondent

24, Apr, 2019 @11:01 PM

Article image
NHS staff need access to mental health services, says Labour
Health and care staff breaking down during coronavirus crisis, says Dr Rosena Allin-Khan

Hannah Devlin

01, May, 2020 @1:49 PM

Article image
Lack of testing and PPE among key England Covid-19 mistakes, MPs told
Exclusive: older people also ‘catastrophically let down’ by hospital discharges to care homes

Kate Proctor Political correspondent

24, Jul, 2020 @12:22 PM

Article image
Virus pressure on NHS makes shielding BAME staff hard, say bosses
Hospital chiefs warn plan to protect minority ethnic medics could be difficult and divisive

Denis Campbell and Haroon Siddique

30, Apr, 2020 @7:41 PM

Article image
Coronavirus deaths of two nurses lead to calls for more protection
One nurse in north London resigns after being prevented from wearing mask she bought herself

Haroon Siddique, Nazia Parveen and Alexandra Topping

03, Apr, 2020 @5:24 PM

Article image
UK to begin using Oxford Covid vaccine as PM strikes hopeful tone
Boris Johnson says he hopes pace of vaccination can be ramped up to protect tens of millions in months

Sarah Boseley Health editor

03, Jan, 2021 @7:46 PM

Article image
NHS staff 'gagged' over coronavirus shortages
Doctors and nurses warned not to discuss lack of protective kit, medics claim

Denis Campbell Health policy editor

31, Mar, 2020 @7:14 PM