BBC newsreader Jane Hill was left speechless on Wednesday afternoon after learning that the government would be delivering just 30 breathing ventilators to the NHS to combat Covid-19.
On Tuesday, Michael Gove promised that the "first of thousands" of ventilators that are being built in the UK will be delivered to the front line of the battle against the virus, but just a day later it was revealed by Downing Street that the number would be just 30.
Hill announced this live on BBC News and struggled to contain her confusion at the alarmingly small number of ventilators, in addition to the 8,000 that the NHS already has. She said:
Just a few details coming through about the issue of ventilators, it’s coming from Downing Street, saying that the first batch of new ventilators, which are being produced by a consortium of companies, will come out this weekend … it will include, we are told, about 30 devices.
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.
We talked about Dyson being able eventually with a warrant to maybe do about 10,000. So this is the Penlon ventilator, adapted from existing ventilator designs, and it’s the one you might remember it’s being manufactured by a consortium …
Hill did add that Downing Street has said that "hundreds" of ventilators are due to arrive in the coming weeks but her baffled tone when reading this news really summed up the British government's heavily criticised response to the pandemic.
Gove had announced that the aforementioned consortium is being made up of the likes of McLaren and Mercedes, Ford, Siemens and Meggitt, with the first batch of Pelon ventilators arriving in hospitals this weekend but stopped short of naming just how many would be ready.
A spokesperson for the prime minister has said in a statement:
As Michael Gove set out last night, we would hope to see the first ventilators from this batch being delivered to the NHS next week.
I think we expect that first batch to be up to 30 ventilators, with hundreds more from that particular consortium to follow in the coming weeks.
That’s just one of the consortiums that we’ve partnered (with) - there are thousands more ventilators in the pipeline from other manufacturers and suppliers who are rapidly working on new devices.
This comes just a day after housing minister Robert Jenrick appeared on television and in the space of 30 minutes read out two different totals for the number of ventilators that were being manufactured in the UK.
Earlier this week, Nick Grey, the chief executive of Gtech, claimed that the government told his company to stop producing ventilators despite answering the government's call for help. Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage had also cast doubt on whether the UK should be accepting ventilators from China, where the outbreak of the virus first occurred.
If that wasn't bad enough for the government, Deborah Birx, of Donald Trump's coronavirus task force, compared the UK's low number of ventilators to the amount they have in the US.
The UK experienced its highest amount of deaths on Tuesday as 563 people sadly died bringing the total of overall deaths in the UK to 2,352, with more than 29,000 cases already confirmed.