The Daily Mail last night dramatically intervened in the UK PPE supplies crisis and flew a Dreamliner 787 loaded with £1m worth of equipment into Heathrow airport.
It contained 20 tons of coveralls and masks sourced from China and was paid for by a new charity called Mail Force. More deliveries are planned.
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Health Secretary Matt Hancock thanked the Mail saying: “This delivery is a boost to the national effort, and I thank everyone involved for their fantastic work in pushing through the complex challenges of securing PPE amid global shortages, in aid of our heroic frontline workers.
“A combined domestic and international effort of Government, industry, NHS supply chain and the Armed Forces are working around the clock to get PPE delivered as quickly as possible to those on the frontline during this global pandemic.
“I’m delighted that today’s arrival of equipment will be immediately making its way to the NHS frontline enabling staff to provide world-class medical care.”
Mail Force has been launched with £1m from the Daily Mail, £1m from asset management company Marshall Wace, £1m from software giant Salesforce and a further £1m from Salesforce founder Marc Benioff.
Viscount Rothermere is the principle shareholder of Daily Mail and General Trust. The Rothermere/Harmsworth Foundation has provided £150,000 and the Rothermere Foundation a further £100,000.
In a leader comment the Daily Mail said: “The primary role of the free Press has always been to hold the mighty to account.
“To fight injustice, to ask searching questions of the rich and powerful, and to represent the interests of ordinary families when the State becomes oppressive or overweening.
“But there are times when words alone are not enough. We have to match them with deeds and dive into the fray ourselves…
“A chilling poll from the Royal College of Physicians, published in the Mail yesterday, found that 27 per cent of medical staff were re-using PPE that was intended only for single use. That is simply unacceptable.
“One of those who died after being diagnosed with Covid-19 — Dr Abdul Mabud Chowdhury — had warned three weeks earlier that supplies of protective equipment were inadequate.
“His death stands as a reproach to us all. Working closely with senior NHS managers (the last thing we want is to be competing for the same kit) and Health Secretary Matt Hancock we have identified the stock that is most needed.Having sourced and purchased it at competitive rates, we are shipping it to the UK using the current surplus of passenger aircraft…
“We realise that we can’t solve the entire problem overnight. But we hope to give an example of what can be done with imagination and collective effort.”
The paper also spoke about its campaigning history and mentioned its 1975 intervention after the fall of Saigon when it airlifted 100 Vietnamese orphans over to the UK.
DMGT – which owns the Mail titles, Metro and Mail Online – has avoided making furloughs during the Covid-19 crisis, unlike many other media businesses.
Instead it has asked staff earning more than £40,000 to give up a proportion of their salary in exchange for shares which can be redeemed at the end of the year.