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HSE says some of the PPE flown in from China is 'not appropriate for use'

The Irish government has spent over €200 million on PPE from countries such as China.

The HSE's Dr. Colm Henry at this evening's briefing.
The HSE's Dr. Colm Henry at this evening's briefing.
Image: Sam Boal

THE HSE HAS said that some of the PPE personal protective equipment (PPE) shipped to Ireland to be distributed to healthcare workers “is not appropriate” for use.  

The annual budget for PPE in Ireland is usually €15 million a year but the government is spending about €225 million this year as a response to the Covid-19 crisis. 

The first shipment of a newly secured batch of PPE supplies from China arrived last Sunday but there has been questions over the viability of some of it. 

Speaking today, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said that some of it was “different to that which our healthcare professionals are used to”.

Asked about the questions over the equipment at a Department of Health briefing this evening, Chief Clinical Officer at the HSE Dr Colm Henry said some of it was being “recategorised” while some of it was not appropriate for use. 

“As it lands, Professor Cormican and his team are inspecting all elements of the PPE. PPE isn’t one homogenous group of equipment there are different elements, and he’s breaking it down into equipment that can be used as classified. And to equipment that can be easily recategorised, as for example, a respiratory mask could be more appropriately categorised as a surgical mask,” Henry said. 

And thirdly for some elements that just not appropriate for use in our healthcare system, and we’re going back to the suppliers and feeding this back to them and making sure that any future supplies we get from this or other sources comply with what our healthcare workers need and what will protect them, protect their patients and reduce dissemination of the virus. 

Henry added: “The demand for PPE is well beyond anything we’ve ever experienced, not just in Ireland but worldwide and we see some countries running short now or completely depleted of elements of PPE”.

He said that the HSE is therefore “relieved” that it had secured the supply it had and that it would be coming in on 60 flights over the coming weeks.

Speaking this evening on RTÉ’s Six One News, HSE CEO Paul Reid also said that what has arrived so far only represents 10% of the PPE that is to come and that the elements of the PPE that are not appropriate will not be coming in subsequent shipments.  

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Speaking earlier today about concerns that equipment might not be suitable for Irish health workers Donohoe acknowledged that the equipment that is available in some circumstances is different to what our frontline staff in hospitals usually work with. 

“It is being tested and assessed by the Health Service Executive (HSE). Good use will be found for it. We will continue to look for additional equipment,” he said following reports that some healthcare workers aren’t satisfied with all of the gowns and masks they were provided with. 

The minister said procuring PPE “has become such a competitive environment”, adding that “we are looking at this all the time”.

Donohoe said procuring new equipment is an issue of “utmost priority” to the government, stating that the country has a number of suppliers in the pipeline.

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Rónán Duffy

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