Stefan Kluge, director of the Clinic for Intensive Care Medicine at the University Hospital Eppendorf explains how to use a ventilator | Axel Heimken/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
UK missed out on EU ventilator scheme due to ‘communication problem’
Britain looking to buy an extra 8,000 ventilators to treat coronavirus patients.
Updated 3/26/20, 8:42 PM CET
LONDON — The British government said Thursday that it missed the deadline for taking part in an EU-wide effort to purchase life-saving ventilators and other equipment to treat coronavirus because of a “communication problem.”
The government had been accused of putting Brexit over the health of U.K. citizens by refusing to participate in EU joint procurement schemes after the prime minister’s spokesman said the U.K. was not participating because it is “no longer a member” and is “making our own efforts.”
But on Thursday, the British government said the U.K. missed the deadline to join because it did not receive an invitation from the European Commission in time. A U.K. government spokesperson said the Commission had since informed the U.K. it is eligible to take part until the end of the transition period on December 31.
Three schemes underway will see countries jointly purchase ventilators, protective gear and testing equipment — with the idea that pooling requests means the countries can buy equipment at a lower price.
“As those … initial procurement schemes had already gone out to tender we were unable to take part in these, but we will consider participating in future procurement schemes on the basis of public health requirements at the time,” the spokesperson said.