#ventilatorgate: end of May update

It is now the end of May and I think the time has come for one final update on #ventilatorgate. Well, at least until the public inquiry into this mess gets in full swing.

As of May 19th only 13,000 ventilators were available in the NHS, an increase of 2,100 since the end of April with 1,969 produced by UK manufacturers. However, it seems the DHSC is claiming the target of 18,000 that was supposed to be met in mid-April has now finally been met. It seems they are including all types of ventilators (ie, mechanical also) instead of invasive ventilators which is what the Ventilator Challenge programme was about. As with the testing targets this looks like yet another example of numbers being massaged and reality bent to fit the narrative.

According to the FT, the total cost so far of the ventilator procurement exercise is £200m out of a total expected cost of £454m. Most of that money has gone to Ventilator Challenge UK consortium who has produced a total of 2,000 ventilators as of May 21st. This means their production ramp is taking a lot longer than what was claimed in late April/early May .

I would think the total disbursement mentioned above also covers the machines bought from abroad in addition to those produced by Ventilator Challenge UK, so my question then is how will the remaining 13,000 ventilators of the 'formal order' placed with them will fit on the remaining £254M budget?

In addition, Dick Elsy, the director of Ventilator Challenge UK gave a fascinating interview to The Engineer sometime in May. The whole interview is well worth a read about the effort to get the consortium together and produce the ventilators. There are a couple of points worth covering here though:

This means the call participation was much larger than what I had assumed and that the spec had already been prepared in advance, probably the one that was then changed in late March, early April.


Is it me, or the numbers here are significantly different from those coming from Government sources?

Finally, I bumped into this nugget when researching for this blogpost. It is a paid content piece on The Guardian about a Babcock International project manager who is leading the development of a new ventilator. Here's the key bit of information:


This settles the claim that designing a new ventilator from scratch could be serve an immediate need and, as such, the contract Babcock International might have been awarded without competition is illegal. 100 days is more than enough time to run an accelerated procurement procedure. Plus, we're 70 days into that target and Babcock's device has neither been approved by the MHRA or is in production.

And who paid for this Guardian piece? The Government.