Military attacks NHS over 'appalling' handling of PPE crisis: Army blasts 'knackered' logistics, 'failure' to ration kit and says it is on hand and ready to lead - but has not been asked

  • RAF plane carrying PPE from Turkey landed in UK in early hours of this morning
  • But government is under pressure to source more of the vital kit for the NHS
  • Army sources have heavily criticised the NHS's distribution of the equipment
  • Ministers also under fire for being slow to respond to offers of help from UK firms
NHS bosses are under pressure today after military staff attacked the health service for the way it has been distributing vital PPE equipment during the coronavirus crisis. 
Military personnel accused the NHS of 'appalling' handling of the issue with the army apparently pushing to be given a more prominent role in making sure the kit gets to where it needs to go.
They claimed NHS logistics were 'knackered' and questioned why certain key items were not being rationed.
It came as an RAF plane carrying a PPE shipment from Turkey finally arrived back in the UK in the early hours of this morning. 
Flight tracker RadarBox showed the Airbus A400-M registered ZM416 depart Istanbul and land just after 3.30am at RAF Brize Norton.
The plane had been dispatched from the Oxfordshire base, where two other planes are on stand-by to pick up further kit from Turkey, late on Monday.
It is not yet known if the consignment, which was ordered last Thursday and originally due to arrive on Sunday, includes 400,000 badly-needed surgical gowns.
There is growing fury over PPE shortages amid claims the government has been slow on taking up offers of help from British businesses as millions of items continue to be shipped out of the UK despite domestic need. 
Health Secretary Matt Hancock is under pressure after military personnel labelled the current NHS distribution of PPE 'appalling'
An RAF cargo plane arrived back from Turkey at RAF Brize Norton this morning with a cargo of PPE equipment
An RAF cargo plane arrived back from Turkey at RAF Brize Norton this morning with a cargo of PPE equipment
The supply of gowns has emerged as one of the key issues of the current crisis with the government scrambling to source as many as possible from all over the world. 
But today ministers face claims that they have been slow to talk to domestic manufacturers who have offered to convert their production lines to make the equipment. 
Military planners who are experts in logistics were sent out to different parts of the country by the Ministry of Defence in the early stages of the outbreak to help ensure vital supplies were appropriately and swiftly allocated. 
But military sources have suggested that the NHS distribution network has seen PPE being sent to hospitals without fully taking into account need. 
That has meant some hospitals have ended up with more than they need while others have been left with a shortage. 
A senior army source told The Times: 'We know how knackered their [NHS logistics] systems are, but we've been surprised we've not been called in to help more, and we've been surprised by their failure to ration [kit].
Military commanders are thought to be frustrated that the so-called Covid Support Force which can call on 10,000 personnel and has planning expertise has not been put in charge of PPE distribution.
The arrival of the RAF plane back from Turkey will be a welcome piece of news for ministers as they struggle to boost supply of PPE. 
But they are facing domestic criticism after manufacturers suggested conversations with Whitehall about ramping up productio

Delayed RAF plane finally lands with PPE cargo from Turkey

An RAF plane carrying a delayed consignment of PPE from Turkey finally landed in the UK this morning - but is only carrying up to half the promised 84 tonnes of life-saving equipment.
Flight tracker RadarBox showed the Airbus A400-M registered ZM416 depart Istanbul and land just after 3.30am at RAF Brize Norton.
The jet is one of three that have been waiting for days for the go-ahead to pick urgently needed medical clothing and equipment, including 400,000 gowns made by Turkish suppliers. 
It is not known how much of the consignment has arrived today, but the RAF Atlas is believed to only have capacity for 40 tonnes. After the jet touched down, three pallets were seen being unloaded onto the tarmac.
The government promised that the cargo would arrive in Britain on Sunday and it when it didn't the RAF plane was sent to pick it up. 
It didn't land in Istanbul until Monday, at 9.10pm local time. 
Fury over coronavirus PPE shortages is escalating amid claims the government was ignoring offers of help from businesses - and millions of pieces of PPE are still being shipped out of the UK in spite of the lack of equipment for NHS frontline staff.
Reports suggested that the government missed out on 16million facemasks for the NHS after ignoring offers from two major firmsAdam Mansell, head of the UK Fashion and Textile Association, said: 'We have started probably four weeks later than we should have.' 
Some companies have claimed offers were made to convert to making the kit for the NHS but they faced long waits for a reply from the government.  
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: 'The MoD understands just how challenging logistics can be, especially under current pressures. 
'Of course there may be frictions at a local level, but those same armed forces are doing everything possible to support their health colleagues. The MoD has full confidence in the NHS.'  
Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced yesterday at the daily Downing Street press conference that 8,331 companies had come forward with offers of PPE - some of which had led to 'very large-scale' purchases.
'I am very grateful to all of those who have come forward and we are now actively engaged with hundreds of these companies,' he said.
'I can announce that we are working with 159 potential UK manufacturers which are starting to come on stream.'
Mr Hancock said the government needed to carefully consider all of the offers made to make sure firms can actually deliver on what they have promised. 
'We have had some offers, for instance, that have come from companies where, upon investigation, the company has only just been formed in the previous day or two before coming and asking for a cash deal with the government,' he said.   
The RAF plane carrying supplies from Turkey is believed to only have been carrying up to half of the promised 84 tonnes of life-saving equipment. 
The delay in the arrival of the cargo had been blamed by the UK government on problems in Turkey. 
But Turkish hit back and said there had been no hold up on their end, claiming ministers had only requested help with the shipment on Sunday. n of items like gowns in the UK only started in the last two weeks. 
The Atlas A400 is spotted approaching the runway early this morning. It is only carrying up to half the promised 84 tonnes of life-saving equipment
The RAF transport plane being loaded with vital PPE equipment in Turkey which is destined for frontline healthcare workers in the UK
The government is insistent that it is pursuing 'every possible option' to secure additional kit but unprecedented worldwide demand means the situation is 'very challenging'.
The government is today facing renewed scrutiny of its domestic efforts to increase supply.  
Reports overnight suggest the government missed out on 16 million face masks for the NHS after offers from two major firms were ignored. 
The Guardian reported that infectious disease specialists Landcent said they could have delivered six million FFP2 masks for the NHS to use if the government had placed an order three weeks ago.
Volker Schuster, who owns Merseyside-based chemicals company EcoLogix, also claims he wrote to the Cabinet Office's 'COVID commercial response unit' to offer a shipment of 10milllion FFP2 masks from China.
The firm said it only got a response eight days later - by which time the items had been sold to other countries.
Schuster's MP, Bill Esterson, Labour MP for Sefton Central, confirmed that he also contacted Mr Hancock, to highlight the offer on March 27 but that he had never received a reply.   

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