A new report published in the BMJ says the UK government was slow to respond to the demand for ventilators in the first wave of COVID-19 last Spring, and it was luck, not preparation, that every patient who needed a ventilator got one.

Good luck rather than design helped the NHS to care for patients with COVID-19, none of whom were denied access to a ventilator when needed, a report from the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee has concluded.

NHS England and NHS Improvement did not know how many ventilators the NHS already had, said the report’s authors, who sought this information from individual NHS trusts in late February and found that the NHS had around 7400 ventilators—far fewer than the 59 000 they feared might be needed. The DHSC began its initial efforts to buy more ventilators on 3 March, about a month after the pandemic emergency was announced.

Read more at www.bmj.com