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'Car boot sale' ventilators sent from China to Black Country were a disaster - health boss

By Thomas Parkes | Wolverhampton | Coronavirus | Published:

A health chief has said the arrival of unreliable ventilators to hospitals in the West Midlands was one of the “disasters” in the pandemic fight.

A total of 250 Shangrila 510 ventilator models, made by Chinese firm Beijing Aeonmed Co Ltd, arrived in the region in April.

But medical experts warned the unreliable and unsafe models could cause “significant patient harm, including death”.

The Chinese ventilators arrived at sites across the region, including at Sandwell General Hospital in West Bromwich and New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton.

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David Loughton CBE, chief executive of the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, said the shipment had been disastrous for the hospital and staff morale.

Mr Loughton said: “I think we’ve had some real disasters – I mean we had 250 ventilators delivered for Birmingham and the Black Country from China.

New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton

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“They weren’t fit for purpose. The oxygen control, you had two levels – on or off – and I don’t know whether Wolverhampton has got any car boot sales going, but I’ve got 50 ventilators which I will see if anyone wants to turn them into something.

“But those things were really really difficult for me and my team to manage the staff to say we’ve been promising you these ventilators and then when they come people say they’re not fit for purpose.”

A letter leaked to NBC News said doctors were concerned the breathing machines, which were built for ambulances rather than hospitals, not only had a problematic oxygen supply but could not be cleaned properly.

Medics at Sandwell Hospital found the machines provided an oxygen supply that was “variable and unreliable”.

Tests also showed they had only a “basic” build and the fabric case on the device could not be cleaned properly by staff.

Thomas Parkes

By Thomas Parkes
Senior Reporter - @TParkes_Star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton. Got a story? Get in touch at thomas.parkes@expressandstar.co.uk.

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