Housing minister Robert Jenrick was doing the rounds of news TV programmes this morning discussing ventilators, but he seemed a bit confused by it all.
Appearing on BBC Breakfast this morning, he was asked how many ventilators UK hospitals actually had, and responded:
The number of ventilators, which is 8,000 in the NHS today, will increase very significantly as a result of the steps we’ve taken, but more importantly from the work of british manufacturers.
So that’s 8,000 ventilators, which makes sense… except just half an hour earlier he’d appeared on Sky News, claiming there were 12,000.
Speaking to Kay Burley, he had also been asked how many ventilators we have today, to which he responded:
We have over 12,000 ventilators at the moment.
It seems the UK somehow managed to lose 4,000 ventilators within the space of about 36 minutes.
Either that, or the government is failing to properly prep its ministers for news appearances.
There have been some issues on procuring ventilators in the UK and around the world, in the midst of the pandemic.
Earlier this week, a company says it also told the Department of Health it could provide ventialors, but its email went unanswered for two weeks. The blunder may mean the UK missed out on an offer of 25,000 ventilators.
Either way, 30,000 ventilators are likely to be needed before the expected peak of the epidemic in mid-April.
On March 16, Jenrick and the government put out a call for businesses to help make NHS ventilators.
“As part of the national effort to tackle coronavirus and protect the most vulnerable in our society, the Government is looking for businesses who can support in the supply of ventilators and ventilator components across the UK,” the call said.
Jenrick also told Sky News on Wednesday that Britain is aiming to increase the number of tests for coronavirus to 25,000 a day by the middle of the month, from its present capacity of about 12,000 a day.
Britain is beginning to test medical staff in addition to patients in hospitals, and Jenrick said Monday that more than 8,000 people were tested Monday and about 900 health workers were tested over the weekend. Many critics have said it is not expanding testing fast enough or wide enough.