DAUK on the front page of The Guardian: UK missed three chances to join EU scheme to bulk-buy PPE

Britain missed three opportunities to be part of an EU scheme to bulk-buy masks, gowns and gloves and has been absent from key talks about future purchases, the Guardian can reveal, as pressure grows on ministers to protect NHS medics and care workers on the coronavirus frontline.

European doctors and nurses are preparing to receive the first of €1.5bn (£1.3bn) worth of personal protective equipment (PPE) within days or a maximum of two weeks through a joint procurement scheme involving 25 countries and eight companies, according to internal EU documents.

The development comes as anger grows over PPE shortages in Britain, with particular concerns at the weekend over stocks of full-sleeve gowns running out. The gowns are designed to resist droplets which can spread coronavirus and were shown to be highly effective at protecting medics in Italy.

A survey by the Doctors’ Association UK found that only 52% of clinicians carrying out the highest-risk procedures said they had access to the correct full-sleeve gowns, while the Guardian understands that a consignment of at least 100,000 gowns from China had to be rejected when it was found to be substandard. Other consignments thought to be gowns had been mislabelled and were other equipment.