• Government reportedly expected 400,000 gowns to be delivered on Sunday
  • RAF delivered shipment on Wednesday
  • HSJ sources say only 32,000 gowns actually arrived in the UK

Only a fraction of the gowns expected in a much-publicised shipment from Turkey actually arrived in the UK on Wednesday, HSJ understands.

Senior procurement sources have said just 32,000 of an anticipated 400,000 gowns were delivered — just a few hours’ supply for the health service, which currently goes through approximately 150,000 per day.

The government expected the gowns to arrive as part of a bulk delivery of personal protective equipment on Sunday. However, on Monday, culture secretary Oliver Dowden said problems in Turkey had delayed the flight.

The Royal Air Force finally delivered a batch of PPE from Ankara to RAF Brize Norton, in Oxfordshire, on Wednesday, according to the BBC. It is not yet clear exactly what was included in the delivery, but the aeroplane used to ship the goods can reportedly carry a load of around 40 tonnes. It is thought the government was expecting to receive around twice that amount.

HSJ has approached the Department of Health and Social Care for comment.

The government has faced serious criticism over shortages of PPE, which is vital for protecting health and social care staff against covid-19. More than 100 health and social care workers have died after being infected by the virus.

Officials say global shortages, unprecedented demand and major logistical hurdles have been serious challenges in the race to procure enough PPE for the health and social care sector.

A global surge in demand and pressures on supply have led to an unpredictable PPE market, with customers reportedly facing intense international competition, price gouging, and the unpredictable fulfilment of orders. Procurement leads dealing directly with suppliers have described the global PPE market as a “wild west” in which they feel like “arms dealers”.

A covid-19 specific delivery channel has been set up to provide PPE to trusts, but procurement leads continue to express concerns over the supply of certain products, including gowns.

GPs and social care organisations are relying on their own suppliers, local resilience forums and an emergency hotline while they wait for an eBay-built online portal which was slated to launch in early April.