UK working quickly as it can on ventilators after missing EU scheme - PM's spokesman

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain is working as quickly as it can to get ventilators, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday, after London was criticised for not taking part in an EU scheme to try to buy the breathing machines in the coronavirus outbreak.

“There was an initial communication problem which was that we didn’t receive the invitation to take part in the first four of the joint (EU) procurement schemes in time - in short, the tenders are already gone out by the time it became known to us that there was an invitation, saying we could take part,” the spokesman said.

He said the government had asked businesses to give them a progress report on their efforts to manufacture the ventilators, and that officials were working with regulators on the necessary approval for new equipment.

“We’re working as quickly as we can to get them as soon as we can, and that includes working with the regulators,” he added.

“It is of course though worth stressing that it is entirely right and proper that they go through full checks. This is vital medical equipment and we have to be satisfied that it’s going to perform the critical function.”

Reporting by William James, writing by Elizabeth Piper; editing by Stephen Addison