Pressed to say sorry for the ongoing issues in hospitals around the country, the home secretary said: “I’m sorry if people feel there have been failings. I will be very, very clear about that.”
Patel added: “But at the same time, we are in an unprecedented global health pandemic right now.
“It is inevitable that the demand and the pressures on PPE and demand for PPE are going to be exponential. They are going to be incredibly high.
“And of course we are trying to address that as a government.”
A growing number of NHS staff are dying of coronavirus and the government has come under severe pressure to ensure they are provided with the equipment they need to safely treat the ever-increasing number of people falling ill.
Health secretary Matt Hancock yesterday caused outrage among nursing staff after implying PPE was a “precious resource” and wasn’t being used properly by NHS staff.
After saying there is enough to go round if it is used in line with official guidance, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) dismissed any suggestions that healthcare staff were “abusing or overusing” PPE.
RCN general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Saturday that no PPE was “more precious a resource than a healthcare worker’s life, a nurse’s life, a doctor’s life”.
Speaking later on BBC Breakfast Dame Donna said that every day she was hearing from nurses saying they did not have enough protective equipment.
Dame Donna added: “I take offence actually that we are saying that healthcare workers are abusing or overusing PPE.”
Today’s briefing was the first Patel has presented after facing increasing questions over where she has been during the ongoing crisis.