UK Health Service Expecting Just Thirty New Ventilators of Thousands Promised This Weekend

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Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) is set to receive just 30 new ventilators to combat the growing coronavirus crisis at the weekend, according to reports. It is expected to need 30,000.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, who is co-ordinating the British government’s coronavirus response, said the country’s socialised healthcare system would receive the “first of thousands” of life-saving ventilators at the coming weekend, but reporters appear to have been taken by surprise after receiving hard figures on the size of that first batch — suggesting either poor communications by Downing Street or a poor grasp of government semantics by the mainstream media.

“Downing Street [are] saying that the first batch of new ventilators, which are being produced by a consortium of companies, will come out this weekend,” announced British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) anchor Jane Hill during a BBC News bulletin quoted in an report.

“It will include, we are told, about 30 devices,” Hill added, visibly confused.

“We have been double-checking this. But it does seem to say 30. Of course, you will be aware that the number that has been talked about by health officials for the last couple of weeks, that they would like, I’m pretty sure I’m right in saying, they would like 30,000,” she continued, adding that the ventilator in question was “the Penlon ventilator, adapted from existing ventilator designs” by a consortium including carmakers McLaren and Mercedes.

Hill quoted a spokesman for the Prime Minister as saying “hundreds more [ventilators] will follow in the coming weeks”, and conceded that other companies are also working to turn out new ventilators, including Dyson, which assisted by other firms including JCB expects to fulfil an “initial order” of 10,000 machines at some point in the future.

The British press has been awash with headlines recently of British industry and inventors working feverishly to contribute to the National Effort to produce ventilators which the Government announced relatively late in the coronavirus pandemic — with reports highlighting the work of vacuum cleaner firm Gtech and teams at the University and King’s College London to come up with relatively rudimentary emergency ventilators which could be assembled in a short time, and another team even putting together a modern-day “iron lung” which has been Christened the exovent.

The news that, almost a week into April, the NHS is set to increase its current arsenal of just 8,000 ventilators — fewer per head than in the stricken province of Lombardy in Italy — may cause concern that such efforts, however Herculean, are not bearing fruit quickly enough.

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