A newsreader has been left baffled by a government announcement that the NHS will receive just 30 extra ventilators next week rather than the 30,000 it needs.
BBC presenter Jane Hill announced the news live on the news channel as she was told the number of ventilators the NHS would receive was only in double digits.
With a tone of puzzlement, the newsreader explained that producers had been trying to check the figures, as she was aware at least 30,000 ventilators would be needed to cope with the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.
But as she tried to understand the announcement, she clarified that Downing Street had added that ‘hundreds’ would follow in the coming weeks.
Her tone of disbelief struck a chord with viewers who tweeted about her reaction.
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‘I love Jane Hill’s WTF? incredulity when reading this out’, said one.
‘Jane Hill speaking for all of us’, tweeted another.
There are 8,000 ventilators currently being used across the NHS in the UK, with those suffering the most severe Covid-19 symptoms hooked up to the machines to help them breathe.
Number 10 confirmed 30 extra ventilators will be delivered to the NHS next week from medical company Penlon as part of a consortium including Ford, Siemens, Mercedes, McLaren and Meggitt.
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The Penlon machine, which has been rapidly adapted from other existing ventilator designs, has been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
The prime minister’s official spokesman said: ‘As Michael Gove set out last night, we would hope to see the first ventilators from this batch being delivered to the NHS next week.
‘I think we expect that first batch to be up to 30 ventilators, with hundreds more from that particular consortium to follow in the coming weeks.
‘That’s just one of the consortiums that we’ve partnered (with) – there are thousands more ventilators in the pipeline from other manufacturers and suppliers who are rapidly working on new devices.’
The Cabinet Office said the Penlon device is based on elements found in the company’s current range of CE safety marked products and ‘meets the rapidly manufactured ventilator system specification’.
A spokesman added: ‘It is a fully intubated mechanical ventilator designed to provide support to critically ill patients with a range of functions including volume and pressure controlled ventilation.’
The government this week also gave the go-ahead for the NHS to order 10,000 continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices, which are less invasive than ventilators and used extensively in Italy and China during efforts to tackle the pandemic, after the health regulator approved modified use on Covid-19 patients.
It comes as a US official in the White House criticised the UK’s resource numbers, after Donald Trump claimed Boris Johnson’s initial response could have had ‘catastrophic’ consequences.
Dr Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response co-ordinator, said: ‘I don’t know if you heard the report this morning, there are 8,000 ventilators in the UK.
‘If you translate that to United States, that would be like the United States having less than 40,000 ventilators. We have five times that.’