Thousands of ventilators not ready until ‘coming months’, says No 10

Thousands of extra ventilators ordered for patients critically ill with coronavirus are not expected to be ready for a number of months, despite the disease's anticipated peak looming.

Downing Street said on Thursday that 8,000 additional ventilators had been ordered by the Government to boost the stock of 8,000 already available to the health service.

But with Covid-19's peak expected to strike the UK in around three weeks, there were concerns hospitals will not have the numbers required in time.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman assured that 8,000 approved machines had been ordered.

"We would say we expect thousands of those to arrive in the coming weeks and thousands more in the pipeline to arrive in the coming months," he told a Westminster briefing.

A day earlier, a key scientist who has been advising the Government, Professor Neil Ferguson, suggested the majority may be needed sooner than that.

He predicted that intensive care demand would peak "in approximately two to three weeks and then decline thereafter" if the current lockdown measures work as expected.

There was also criticism of Boris Johnson for not taking part in an EU scheme to boost the number of ventilators, with allegations that Brexit ideology was being placed above demand for the essential equipment.

Layla Moran
Ms Moran said she was deeply shocked by the move (Gareth Fuller/PA)

The PM's spokesman said: "Well, we are no longer members of the EU" when asked why the UK was not utilising the scheme, and pointed towards other efforts to secure ventilators.

Lib Dem MP Layla Moran said she was "deeply shocked and concerned" about the decision not to participate, saying it was a "no-brainer" to help the NHS by working with other nations.

"I wrote to the Government a week ago urging them to put pragmatism above ideological considerations and urgently opt in to the EU joint procurement scheme," she said.

"Now I urge them to reconsider their devastating decision to not participate. We can't put Brexit over breathing – lives must come first."

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Britain before and after coronavirus lockdown
A composite image of the streets in the centre of Bath busy with visitors and shoppers on 11/03/20 (top) and the empty streets on Tuesday 24/03/20 the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Composite photos of Bournemouth beach on 28/06/19 (top), and on Monday 23/03/20 (bottom), the day Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Composite photos of London's National Gallery in Trafalgar Square on 28/01/14 (top), and on Tuesday 24/03/20 (bottom), the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A composite image of London's Canary Wharf Jubilee Line platform on 31/01/13 (top), and on Tuesday 24/03/20 (bottom), the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Composite photos of London's Tower Bridge on 16/03/20 (top), and on Tuesday 24/03/20 (bottom), the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A composite image of commuters at Waterloo station in London on 12/03/20 (top), and on Wednesday 25/03/20 (bottom), after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Composite photos of ticket holders for Comedy about a Bank Robbery in line outside the Criterion Theatre, London on 12/03/20 (top), and the theatre on Tuesday 24/03/20 (bottom), the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A composite image of of commuters crossing London Bridge on 13/03/20 (top), and on Wednesday 25/03/20 (bottom), after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Composite photos of London's Buckingham Palace during the Changing of the Guard on 13/03/20 (top), and on Tuesday 24/03/20 (bottom), the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Composite photos of Bournemouth beach on 14/09/19 (top), and on Monday 23/03/20 (bottom), the day Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A composite image of people walking across the Millennium Bridge, London, with St Paul's Cathedral in the background, on 13/03/20 (top), and on Wednesday 25/03/20 (bottom), after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A composite image of London's Canary Wharf Station on 17/03/20 (top), and on Tuesday 24/03/20 (bottom), the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Composite photos of ticket holders for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in line outside the Palace Theatre, London on 12/03/20 (top), and the theatre on Tuesday 24/03/20 (bottom), the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A composite image of London's Canary Wharf Station on 17/03/20 (top), and on Tuesday 24/03/20 (bottom), the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A composite image of the streets in the centre of Bath busy with visitors and shoppers on 11/03/20 (top) and the empty streets on Tuesday 24/03/20 the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A composite image of visitors to Leicester Square, London, on 13/03/20 (top), and on Wednesday 25/03/20, (bottom), after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Composite photos of ticket holders for Ticket holders for Come from Away in line outside the Phoenix Theatre, London on 12/03/20 (top), and the theatre on Tuesday 24/03/20 (bottom), the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A composite image of the streets in the centre of Bath busy with visitors and shoppers on 11/03/20 (top) and the empty streets on Tuesday 24/03/20 the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Composite photos of Edinburgh's Royal Mile on 14/03/20, and on Saturday (21/03/20) after bars, pubs and restaurants were instructed to close. Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown on Monday night to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Composite photos of people on the beach at Barry Island, South Wales, on 14/09/19 (top), and on Wednesday 25/03/20 (bottom), after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Composite photos of people on the beach at Barry Island, South Wales, on 19/06/17 (top), and on Wednesday 25/03/20 (bottom), after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A composite image of the streets in the centre of Bath busy with visitors and shoppers on 11/03/20 (top) and the empty streets on Tuesday 24/03/20 the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
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Pressed if the decision was related to Brexit ideology, the spokesman said: "No, as I say, this is an area where we're making our own efforts."

Downing Street also contradicted a claim by billionaire entrepreneur Sir James Dyson that the Government had ordered 10,000 ventilators from his firm.

Sir James emailed Dyson staff to say "we have received an initial order of 10,000 units from the UK Government".

But the Prime Minister's spokesman said all manufacturers turning their efforts to making ventilators must pass tests from expert clinicians and health regulators before purchases are made.

"New orders are all dependent on machines passing regulatory tests; this is the case with Dyson," he said.

"Their machines must meet the necessary safety and regulatory standards – if they do not, they will not be brought or rolled out to hospitals."

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