DESPITE yesterday’s promises from the UK Government that the “first of thousands” of new ventilators would be sent to the front lines of the NHS next week, it appears just 30 will be delivered to health workers this weekend.

Just a day on from Cabinet minister Michael Gove’s claim of a new delivery coming soon, officials admitted that the first batch will include just 30, with hundreds more expected to appear in the coming weeks.

Downing Street said the new devices would be from Penlon, as part of a consortium including Ford, Siemens, Mercedes, McLaren and Meggitt.

The NHS currently has about 8000 ventilators to treat critical coronavirus patients, but a further 30,000 will be needed if the UK is to cope with the expected peak of the outbreak this month.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: UK to control devolved nations' access to test kits

The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said: "I think we expect that first batch to be up to 30 ventilators, with hundreds more from that particular consortium to follow in the coming weeks.

"That's just one of the consortiums that we've partnered (with) - there are thousands more ventilators in the pipeline from other manufacturers and suppliers who are rapidly working on new devices."

BBC newsreader Jane Hill was given the breaking news to read out earlier and was shocked by the figure.

She said: “Just a few details coming through about the issue of ventilators, it’s coming from Downing Street, saying that the first batch of new ventilators, which are being produced by a consortium of companies, will come out this weekend … it will include, we are told, about 30 devices.

“We have been double-checking this. But it does seem to say 30. Of course you will be aware that the number that has been talked about by health officials for the last couple of weeks, that they would like, I’m pretty sure I’m right in saying, they would like 30,000.

“We talked about Dyson being able eventually with a warrant to maybe do about 10,000. So this is the Penlon ventilator, adapted from existing ventilator designs, and it’s the one you might remember it’s being manufactured by a consortium …”

Hill stressed there are other companies involved in the development of the ventilators, but still appeared surprised by the small figure.

The news comes after it emerged the UK Government will now be taking control of the purchasing of coronavirus testing kits for all four nations.

The decision, was has prompted backlash in the devolved nations, came after NHS England and NHS Wales ended up in a bidding war for testing kits which saw the firm selling them prioritise England’s larger order and cancel Wales’s.

Scotland is in lockdown. Shops are closing and newspaper sales are falling fast. It’s no exaggeration to say that the future of The National is at stake. Please consider supporting us through this with a digital subscription from just £2 for 2 months by following this link: Thanks – and stay safe.