Socialist Worker

Ventilators deadly shortage threatens care

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2698

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Firms say the government rejected their offers to manufacture ventilators (Pic: Number 10/Flickr)


Hospitals have started rationing ventilators for patients as the coronavirus death toll rises.

The NHS has 8,000 ventilators, but it’s predicted to need at least 30,000 to treat people with acute respiratory difficulties caused by the virus. 

The lack of ventilators is another example of how Tory policy left the NHS exposed to the pandemic. 

Rival firms are busy competing for contracts to boost their profits. 

Sidelined

Several companies have said their offers to supply ventilators were ignored in recent weeks. Specialist makers say that they have been sidelined in favour of big-name manufacturers with unproven models. 

Dyson this week said it had received a government order for 10,000 ventilators designed from scratch, subject to passing regulatory tests.

A separate proposal could have supplied the NHS with as many as 25,000 ventilators from China. It similarly went unanswered until it was too late, according to the two companies behind it. 

Firms Direct Access and Topland General Trading say they first contacted officials on 16 March with a plan to manufacture 5,000 machines a week. 

“Had quicker action been taken then, we would now have supplied up to 15,000 ventilators with a further delivery of 10,000 within the next two weeks,” said Topland owner Andy Faulkner.

Now a backlog of orders mean that it will take the firm two to three months to provide a similar number of ventilators. 

This scandal again shows how the anarchy of the market cannot deal with the coronavirus crisis.


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