Heroic staff get PPE just in time thanks to Mail Force charity

Heroic staff get PPE just in time thanks to Mail Force charity: Care home workers applaud vital new delivery of protective masks and all-in-one coveralls

  • There was delight among staff at Shedfield Lodge care home in Hampshire following a Mail Force delivery 
  • It has only been a few days since Mail Force – a brand new charity – was created to get more PPE for the NHS
  • It is Mail Force’s task to find new sources of PPE and to make sure it meets the specifications needed for NHS
  • For further information about the Mail Force charity and to donate, click here 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

The situation had been growing more and more desperate as the week went on.

Stocks of essential protective equipment were running so low that they had been due to run out this very morning– with no prospect of resupply before June.

Here at this typical, well-run care home, the staff were becoming increasingly fearful that, after three clear weeks without a single further Covid-19 case or any signs of symptoms, the coronavirus might be about to creep back through the door of Shedfield Lodge.

And then a knight in slightly mud-spattered armour came riding to the rescue in the form of a silver Mail Force delivery van, carrying thousands of protective masks and dozens of all-in-one coveralls. Cue a hearty round of applause for a somewhat bashful van driver – and for Mail Force.

As Shedfield boss, Andrew Geach, put it: ‘You are a guardian angel.’

Shedfield Lodge Care Home where the staff graciously received the Mail Force PPE medical masks and coveralls at Shedfield, near Southampton

Maria Willis, 32, and Megan Wills, 21, wear the Mail Force PPE after it was delivered to Shedfield Lodge Care Home in Hampshire

HERE’S HOW TO DONATE 

Mail Force Charity has been launched with one aim to help support NHS staff, volunteers and care workers fight back against Covid-1 in the UK.

Mail Force is a separate charity established and supported by the Daily Mail and General Trust. 

The money raised will fund essential equipment required by the NHS and care workers. 

This equipment is vital in protecting the heroic staff whilst they perform their fantastic work in helping the UK overcome this pandemic.

If we raise more money than is needed for vital Covid-1 equipment, we will apply all funds to support the work of the NHS in other ways.

Click the button below to make a donation:

If the button is not visible, click here 

It is only a few days since Mail Force – a brand new charity – was created by the Daily Mail and its partners with the sole purpose of getting personal protective equipment (PPE) to our healthcare professionals on the Covid-19 front line. The charity’s first act was to charter a Boeing 787 Dreamliner to bring £1 million of PPE from Shanghai to the UK. In next to no time, the famously generous readers of the Mail and The Mail on Sunday were joining in with several well-known philanthropists to create a Mail Force fighting fund of several million pounds.

The cabin of the long-haul airliner was an eerie sight as our skeleton crew strapped boxes of masks in to every seat while the baggage handlers stuffed the hold with pallets. Just 24 hours after touchdown, the first few batches had gone through the NHS distribution system and I was lucky enough to see some of them reaching doctors, nurses and paramedics. A day later, further supplies were heading for the oft-neglected care sector and places just like Shedfield Lodge, a specialist home for dementia patients in Hampshire. The next day, we watched some of Mail Force’s cargo being welcomed with open arms by the hospice movement.

Now, we do not for a moment pretend that this one 20-ton cargo is going to fill the crater-sized hole in Britain’s PPE supply lines. As one carping critic of the Mail Force campaign sneered yesterday, it is like feeding a donkey an oat. But only up to a point. Because we have no intention of stopping here. We are currently lining up fresh supplies from a variety of international sources, while also exploring British-made options.

There are hurdles at both ends. The whole world is currently engaged in a frantic shopping spree for PPE, including some of our closest friends and neighbours. That is the principal reason why supplies are dwindling.

Finding the right kit at a reasonable price (and prices are going up all the time) is a major challenge. Nor does the charity want to find itself bidding against the Department of Health for the same equipment. They already have their own supply chains and are buying on a monumental scale. It is Mail Force’s task to find new sources of PPE and to make sure it meets the specifications laid down by the Department of Health for use in the NHS. All prospective purchases are cross-checked against the Whitehall database. Then, when they arrive, they must undergo rigorous inspections on the ground, especially if they are from a new source.

Staff helping take in the boxes of medical PPE after a Mail Force delivery to a care home in Shedfield, Hampshire last week

The Mail Force consignment of PPE medical equipment is pictured in Shanghai as it is loaded aboard a Mail chartered plane to London on Tuesday 

The top priorities are fluid-resistant isolation gowns – for dealing with confirmed Covid-19 infections – and surgical masks. Given that gowns are the global must-have item of the moment, coveralls have now been officially sanctioned as a safe alternative. According to frontline medics, the main difference is that coveralls take longer to remove.

There are several reasons to question what Mail Force is doing. Why should a charity be doing the Government’s job for it? Why is this PPE going to A and not to B? Why bother if you can’t solve the problem? All valid questions in normal times, except for the fact that this is an urgent, one-off crisis, the lives of carers are on the line and we do not have the luxury of time. We all need to help the NHS right this minute. We can hardly turn round a global shortage but, collectively and cumulatively, the British public can make a difference to those looking after our most vulnerable.

At the same time, supporters of the charity are sending a powerful message to those at the sharp end of this crisis: the public genuinely mean it when they stand in the road bashing their saucepans on a Thursday night. With one mission behind it, Mail Force is already plotting more airlifts while also lining up truckloads of PPE closer to home.

The charity would not be doing this if everyone – from the top of the NHS to the poor bloody infantry in our hospitals and care homes – was not saying how urgently it is needed. There isn’t a minute to lose.

Now Keir Starmer backs ‘inspiring’ campaign to tackle kit shortages

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer last night hailed the ‘inspiring’ Mail Force campaign after it raised more than £5 million for essential safety equipment to protect frontline NHS and care home staff.

Sir Keir said the new charity was helping supply vital protective kit to brave medics who are working round the clock in the fight against Covid-19.

Mail Force was set up last week by a consortium led by The Mail on Sunday’s sister paper, the Daily Mail, and including Marshall Wace, the UK asset management company, and Salesforce, the US enterprise software giant. The charity’s fundraising page has been inundated with donations. By last night over 11,600 had pledged more than £490,000. The charity has also received 2,000 cheques by post.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (pictured) last night hailed the ‘inspiring’ Mail Force campaign after it raised more than £5 million for essential safety equipment to protect frontline NHS and care home staff

The Mail, whose proprietor is Viscount Rothermere, has provided £1 million to Mail Force and Marshall Wace, founded in 1997 by Sir Paul Marshall and Ian Wace, also donated £1 million. Marc Benioff, a Silicon Valley pioneer who is the co-founder of Salesforce, agreed to match-fund these donations, creating an initial fighting fund of £4 million. The Rothermere Foundation has given £150,000 and the Rothermere/Harmsworth family has donated an additional £100,000.

Mail Force also attracted Royal approval after the Duchess of Cornwall made a personal donation. Meanwhile, Sir Brian Souter, the founder of transport company Stagecoach, said he would match donations from readers up to £500,000.

His generosity came after former Tory Party treasurer Michael Spencer donated £250,000 on Thursday. A day earlier billionaires Hans and Julia Rausing donated £1 million to Mail Force.

Why we had to go to China 

Mail Force had little choice but to turn to China for supplies of safety equipment. Scores of UK manufacturers, including luxury clothing brand Burberry, have adapted their production lines to make personal protective equipment (PPE). But only the awesome scale of manufacturing in China can keep up with the demand from our hospitals and care homes.

About 200 million face masks are manufactured in China every day.

An insight into the NHS’s extraordinary demand came to light with figures from the United Lincolnshire Hospital Trust, which includes three sites with intensive care units. Each day, frontline staff are using 39,500 surgical masks, 11,500 gloves, 1,500 gowns and 4,200 highly protective FFP3 respirator masks, as well as aprons and eye protectors.

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