Over three quarters of the UK want the government to participate in future EU schemes to bulk-buy personal protective equipment (PPE) and other critical medical supplies, according to a new opinion poll.
There was agreement across all age groups and UK regions, as well as majority support among Conservative and Leave voters.
The Focaldata poll was commissioned by cross-party campaign group Best for Britain and HOPE not hate. You can read about our polling in the Independent here.
77 per cent of respondents said they agreed that the UK ‘should stay part of the European Medicines Agency and other EU agreements, which could help us buy and develop vaccines, tests and protective equipment to cope with coronavirus’, whereas less than a quarter (23%) said the UK ‘should leave the European Medicines Agency and similar agreements and cope as an independent nation alone.’
Against a backdrop of severe PPE shortages in hospitals and care homes across the country, support for UK participation of future EU medical procurement schemes was not divided by voting behaviour, age group or UK region.
Nearly two thirds of 2019 Conservative voters agreed with the first statement (62%), as well as 57 per cent of those who voted Leave in the 2016 EU referendum.
The UK government has missed three opportunities to take part in an EU scheme to bulk-buy masks, gowns and gloves and has been absent from key talks about future purchases. According to internal EU documents, European doctors and nurses are preparing to receive the first of £1.3bn worth of personal protective equipment (PPE) within days through a joint procurement scheme involving 25 countries and eight companies.
Best for Britain CEO Naomi Smith said:
"Over the past month it has become increasingly clear that the UK was insufficiently prepared to take on this virus.
"By not stockpiling vital medical supplies at an earlier date, we put ourselves in the position of competing for them with every other country around the world. That has led to severe shortages of protective equipment in hospitals and care homes, with some doctors and nurses being told to hold their breath while they treat infected patients.
"We cannot go on like this. The medical professionals who are risking their lives to save others deserve much better.
"The government must take every opportunity it can to source important medical supplies and urgently seek participation of collaborative EU efforts if they can deliver the PPE we need."
About the Poll
The data for the poll can be downloaded here.
Focaldata, 2,032 UK adults, fieldwork completed between 7-9 April 2020.