British firms set to send PPE to Europe after offers to Government ‘largely ignored’

British firms are set to send tens of thousands of items of vital personal protective equipment (PPE) to Europe rather than the NHS due to a “lack of response from the Government”.

Dozens of companies said they had been “largely ignored” after offering the much-needed equipment to health services in the UK, only for other countries to approach them for help due to the global demand for PPE.

Some also say they have at least 30,000 visors “collecting dust” in warehouses, while others are waiting for the Government to order the vital supplies before they can begin production.

It comes as the Labour Party released a list of 36 British companies that say they have not received replies to their offers of PPE.

Network Medical Products, in Ripon, North Yorkshire, began PPE production on April 9, and told the PA news agency it will begin exporting face visors to Europe from the end of this week if there are no orders from the Government.

The company, which has has supplied 165,000 visors to Ramsay Healthcare UK – a network of private hospitals, said it is capable of distributing 100,000 a week to the NHS.

Neil Mercer, chief executive of Network Medical Products, said: “We have made the decision to export our PPE from the end of this week, there’s a huge global demand for our items, mostly from within Europe but also some countries in South America.

“We want it to be sold and used here, the materials were sourced in the UK, but our offers have been met with generic responses from officials, no orders have been placed, so we will have to ship them abroad.”

Another company, The Appeal Group, which manufactures window blinds and shades, said it can produce 10,000 face shields every week from its facility in Bristol, but is waiting for a response from the Government before it commits to making the items.

Executive chairman Michael Madigan, said: “The whole NHS procurement way of working is very bureaucratic, we just want someone to say they’re interested in the visors so we can press ahead and make them. We aren’t prepared to invest in something if we’re not guaranteed orders.

“If everything is needed so urgent, why aren’t they talking to us earlier and saying what they want and need.”

Other self-employed people offering PPE equipment such as reusable medical gowns have been able to supply local doctors and hospitals, but have been waiting for weeks for a response from NHS procurement officials.

One of them, Bella Gonshorovitz, 35, from Walthamstow, said: “This fabric is not cheap, but I’ve managed to raise £22,000 for hundreds of metres of material to make the gowns, because I know doctors and nurses are desperate for this.”

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