Frontline doc’s ventilator fears, Gtech order ‘no longer needed’ - The Evesham Observer

Frontline doc’s ventilator fears, Gtech order ‘no longer needed’

Evesham Editorial 3rd Apr, 2020   0

A DOCTOR on the frontline in the fight against coronavirus has questioned the Government’s approach to acquiring enough ventilators for those who need them.

Dr David Nicholl, a senior doctor at a Birmingham hospital, called last week for the UK to sign up to the EU procurement scheme so it would be better-placed to acquire ventilators and other equipment to tackle COVID-19.

All 25 EU countries signed up to a joint scheme to buy ventilators and protective gear for medical staff, along with coronavirus testing kits.

The UK, although not a member of the EU, continues to follow the union’s rules and regulations until the end of the year and was eligible to join the scheme.

Dr Nicholl, who stood as a Liberal Democrat candidate for Bromsgrove in last year’s election, said: “As someone directly involved in the care of COVID-19 patients and planning for the pandemic in the coming weeks, I am disappointed the Government has not signed up to this initiative.

“In a war you work with everyone to defeat it, even if your enemy is Covid-19. Instead, the Conservatives have chosen not to work with our European neighbours.”

Dr Nicholl revealed staff at his hospital had been reassigned from their usual departments to help care for coronavirus patients.

“The NHS is busting a gut on this – I cannot put into words how unbelievably hard everyone is working. On the one hand the staff are under a lot of pressure but at the same time so many are asking what they can do to help – the dedication is unbelievable,” he said.

“The NHS has changed more in the last two weeks than I have seen it in the past 20 years – I barely recognise my own workplace. There is no doctor alive who has ever faced anything like this – the last time there was anything near this was the Spanish Flu and that was in 1918.”

Dr Nicholl spoke out in the week Gtech revealed the government had advised them not push to forward with production of ventilators despite answering a call for help to assist in producing more than 30,000 ventilators in less than two weeks.

A Government spokesperson said: “We had an overwhelming response from businesses across the UK offering their support, and we are very grateful to Gtech for their effort.

“Unfortunately the Gtech ventilator model did not pass the Government’s stringent safety tests and we will not be proceeding further.”

Ventilator models were looked at by the Technical Design Authority which includes a panel of clinicians.

Reasons for the Government not accepting certain designs included them being inflexible for clinical use, did not meet specifications or other options were more appropriate.

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