But now an artist who “went into debt” buying kit such as masks, gloves and face shields is refusing to give any to the NHS or her friends.
Becca Brown, 35, has said that the government – which has been accused of failing to provide protective equipment for NHS staff – should have been more prepared.
Brown explains that she started stockpiling because she was looking after her elderly aunt and didn’t want to make too many trips, but also said that she uses PPE-like equipment in her artwork.
She’s even refused to lend any of the equipment to her friends, which has caused some rows with her nearest and dearest. She explained to The Sun:
The few friends I have shown it to are stunned at the amount of kit I have got and have told me I should donate some to the NHS which is running short.
They’re shocked when I’ve said: 'I am sorry, I just won’t do that'.
It’s not my job to ensure the NHS have proper protective personal equipment. That’s the government’s job.
I need my PPE kit to protect myself and for my art exhibition, and won’t donate it to the NHS. I am putting together an exhibition based on the coronavirus and the items the NHS use every day is my canvas.
I make absolutely no apology because, as an artist, I have to stand by my work and my right to buy what I want.
This expensive haul includes:
£200 on 500 surgical masks
£300 on military-style face masks
£200 on face shields (with more on the way)
£200 on surgical gloves
Brown has said that many of her friends have said I should donate them to the NHS, but she doesn’t think it’s her responsibility, saying:
I won’t – they should have been more prepared.
Brown found most of these items on sites like Amazon and eBay, which have been making an effort to clamp down on profiteering.
Meanwhile the NHS so desperate for PPE that some health workers have been seen wearing bin bags. Chartered flights have been bringing it from China to the UK and, in very bizarre news, a fetish company even donated its entire stock of medical gear to the NHS. Desperate times indeed.
While Boris Johnson was recuperating from coronavirus, PPE was a major focus of the daily press briefings. Priti Patel got into hot water for saying she was sorry “if people feel” there isn’t enough PPE and Matt Hancock appeared to insinuate that some NHS staff weren’t treating it like the "precious resource" that it is.
Downing Street said Johnson used his first meeting of the Covid-19 cabinet since his recovery from coronavirus to focus on the need to secure PPE supplies.