Coronavirus: Safety concerns halt use of 50 million NHS masks

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Coronavirus: Safety concerns halt use of 50 million NHS masks
Coronavirus: Safety concerns halt use of 50 million NHS masks

Coronavirus: Security considerations halt use of 50 million NHS masks

Doctor putting on FFP2 mask in emergency room of a hospitalPicture copyright
Getty Photos

Picture caption

FFP2 respirator masks similar to these are utilized by healthcare employees

Fifty million face masks purchased by the federal government in April is not going to be used within the NHS due to security considerations.

The federal government says the masks, which use ear-loop fastenings slightly than head loops, could not match tightly sufficient.

They had been purchased for healthcare employees from provider Ayanda Capital as a part of a £252m contract.

Ayanda says the masks meet the specs the federal government had set out. The federal government says its security requirements course of is “strong”.

It additionally emerged that the one that initially approached the federal government in regards to the deal was a authorities commerce adviser who additionally advises the board of Ayanda.

However he advised the BBC his place performed no half within the awarding of the contract.

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Within the early weeks of the pandemic the NHS skilled extreme shortages of non-public protecting tools (PPE).

The federal government says it needed to discover new suppliers rapidly to fulfill demand and to compete with rising international competitors.

On 29 April the Division of Well being and Social Care signed the £252m contract with Ayanda Capital Restricted to produce two sorts of face masks.

The costliest a part of the order consisted of 50 million FFP2 respirator masks, that are designed to guard healthcare employees from inhaling dangerous particles.

Picture caption

The federal government purchased 50 million masks like these with ear loops

In keeping with authorized papers seen by the BBC, the federal government says these masks will not be used within the NHS due to a security situation.

The doc says that there’s concern about whether or not they would match adequately.

To be efficient most of these face masks want to suit tightly to create a seal between the masks and the wearer’s face.

Anybody who wears them for work is required to bear a face match check.

“The face match is both a cross or a fail and there are extra fails on merchandise with ear loops than there are on merchandise with head harnesses,” says Alan Murray, chief govt of the British Security Business Federation.

“That implies that it would not essentially present the safety that was required from it.”

It’s not clear what’s going to occur now to the 50 million masks.

Ayanda Capital additionally provided 150 million Sort IIR masks, which the federal government says are unaffected.

Most have now been delivered however they haven’t but been launched to be used within the NHS and are awaiting additional testing.

‘Staggering’ quantities spent

The data was disclosed in a authorized response to the Good Legislation Challenge, which is in search of to problem the federal government within the courts over three PPE contracts it awarded, together with Ayanda Capital’s.

The marketing campaign group argues the federal government’s awarding of contracts on to firms in the course of the pandemic, slightly than opening them to competitors, could have been illegal.

“It is taken this extraordinary sum of public funds and wasted it on PPE that it itself says can’t be launched to be used within the NHS as a result of it isn’t secure,” mentioned Jolyon Maugham, the Good Legislation Challenge’s director.

“We do suppose that it is vital that the court docket check out these contracts, that it declare them to be illegal and that there be full transparency of how these staggering quantities of public cash have been spent.”

Authorities adviser

The federal government has additionally disclosed that the unique strategy to promote the masks got here not from Ayanda Capital however from a businessman referred to as Andrew Mills.

His firm, Prospermill, had secured the rights to the complete manufacturing capability of a giant manufacturing unit in China to supply masks and was capable of supply a big amount nearly instantly.

However the authorized doc seen by the BBC notes that Mr Mills requested the federal government as an alternative signal the contract for the masks with Ayanda Capital, whose board he advises, as a result of it may organize abroad cost extra rapidly.

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Mr Mills can be an adviser to the UK Board of Commerce.

He advised the BBC his place performed no half within the award of the contract, which was topic to the identical analysis as all gives made in response to the federal government’s request for assist.

Ayanda Capital Restricted mentioned: “The masks provided went via a rigorous technical assurance programme and meet all the necessities of the technical specs which had been made obtainable on-line via the federal government’s portal.

“There are provisions in our contract for product to be rejected if it didn’t meet the required specification as per the contract. These provisions haven’t been activated.”

A authorities assertion mentioned: “All through this international pandemic, now we have been working tirelessly to ship PPE to guard individuals on the frontline.

“Over 2.four billion gadgets have been delivered, and greater than 30 billion have been ordered from UK-based producers and worldwide companions to offer a steady provide, which meets the wants of well being and social care workers each now and sooner or later.

“There’s a strong course of in place to make sure orders are of top of the range and meet strict security requirements, with the mandatory due diligence undertaken on all authorities contracts.”

The federal government beforehand revealed that some check kits, produced by Randox laboratories for NHS Take a look at and Hint, could not have met its required security requirements and suspended their use in July.

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