UK faces 'major problem' with medical equipment shortages

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on March 19, 2020 - Duration: 01:16s

UK faces 'major problem' with medical equipment shortages

Britain faces a "major problem" with a shortage of ventilators that will be needed to treat critically ill patients suffering from coronavirus, after it failed to invest enough in intensive care equipment, a leading ventilator manufacturer said on Wednesday.

Emer McCarthy reports.


UK faces 'major problem' with medical equipment shortages

A leading Swiss ventilator manufacturer was warned that Britain faces a "massive shortage" of ventilators that will be needed to treat critically ill patients suffering from the coronavirus, after it failed to invest enough in intensive care equipment.

Life saving pieces of equipment, ventilators are used to help people with respiratory difficulties to breathe.

Andreas Wieland is the chief executive of Hamilton Medical in Switzerland, which it says is the world's largest ventilator maker.

Hamilton has boosted normal production by 30-40% and now can produce about 80 ventilators a day.

He says that England faces a major problem.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF HAMILTON MEDICAL, ANDREAS WIELAND, SAYING (REPORTER ASKING: "Is the situation in England similar to Italy, that they simply haven't invested, in recent years, in more modern infrastructure for ventilators?" "From our point of view, yes, because they (England) invested very little and I think now they pay the price." Worldwide, the devices have become shorthand for the rapid advance of the disease โ€” and the desperation of officials who fear their stocks are inadequate.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently said the 3,000 devices in his state where 20 people have died, are a fraction of what heโ€™d like to have.

In the UK, health minister Matt Hancock has acknowledged that the existing stock of 5,000 ventilators is inadequate.

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