Wakefield MP arranges delivery of 110,000 reusable face masks from Vietnam for NHS

More than 100,000 reusable face masks have been flown into Yorkshire from Vietnam thanks to Wakefield MP Imran Ahmad Khan.

Mr Khan, who was elected in December, previously worked for the United Nations and in a number of other postings abroad.

And using his connections, managed to arrange for 110,000 masks - all of which he will give to Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust - to arrive in the UK this week.

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The majority of the masks, 100,000, will stay within the three hospitals the trust covers - Pontefract Hospital, Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield and Dewsbury and District Hospital.

Wakefield MP Imran Ahmad Khan. Photo: House of Commons

But it is understood 10,000 will be distributed by the trust to care homes and hospices.

Mr Khan said he organised the shipment “through my own connections” with charity Solidarités International and the Vietnamese Government.

He said the situation of supplies only being provided when needed had left hospital bosses concerned about when they were going to have deliveries of extra personal protective equipment.

Mr Khan said: “So in order to address this, to do my bit, I have of course over a career serving overseas developed a network of contacts and friends and organisations that I have worked with in distant and sometimes dangerous places.

“And in speaking with people about the issues that I'm facing in Wakefield and seeking help and support with those I've worked with in other previous environments, it became apparent that there was an opportunity to be provided with, by Solidarités International and the Government of Vietnam, 110,000 reusable, silver-lined face masks, high quality face masks.

worth about a quarter of million dollars commercially.

“And of course, I jumped at the chance.”

Bosses at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield this week warned long-sleeved disposable gowns were running low.

Chief Executive Martin Barkley said: "We are unsure when our next delivery will be, and this creates a very stressful situation for our staff.”

But Mr Khan said this was not a criticism of the system employed by the Department of Health, which he praised. But a recognition that the global pandemic could not be tackled by any one sector whether that be national Government, local Government, or the charitable sector, alone.

He said: “By doing so, it just allows, within the system, if fewer masks are required in Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust, it means that other trusts can have those supplies of masks, or those masks can be used for other essential workers.

“So it's just to free up further supplies knowing that every piece of PPE at the moment in the kingdom is of real value.”

He added that Pinderfields Hospital held a special place in his heart. His father, a doctor, and his mother, a midwife both worked at the hospital and it was where they met.

It was also where Mr Khan was born.

“It’s home, it’s family, I can’t be separated from it so anything I can do to help them, I will,” he said.

Mr Barkley added: “I very much welcome this amazing and generous donation of more than 100,000 masks to the trust and, indeed, to other local organisations that Imran Khan MP for Wakefield has made possible. This will boost stock levels of masks available to key workers in the locality.”

Mr Khan said it was part of an initiative he had launched called Wakefield Together, which would provide a one-stop shop for anyone with difficulties arising from the coronavirus.

He said he had found one constituent may need help with a number of different agencies during the process but they would now be able to call one number, at Wakefield Together, for help.

He said: “My postbag is huge. It has grown by several orders of magnitude and there is great need in the community. In my constituency, and we have a lot of vulnerable people, and I want to serve them, I don't want any sort of duplication of resources.”

He said through bringing together charitable organisations, representatives would be able to assist with concerns.

He said: “Because I am their representative in our sovereign Parliament, whether they voted for me or not, I have the responsibility and the authority as soon as they contact my office to act as their representative on their behalf, whether it's with central Government or local Government, with banks or utility companies, we can act on their behalf.

“And so the most vulnerable, who may be confused or anxious, they can just call us with not just one issue, but several and we can try to find the solutions for them.”

He added: “Then further to that is not just looking at the most vulnerable to this disease - although that's a very intrinsic and important part - I've also got an eye on recovery

and to ensure that Wakefield bounces back.

“In Wakefield, the vast majority of our business and enterprise community may be small businesses which require significant support and advice and help. I wish to provide that advice and support.

“And what would really help is feeding that back up the policy food chain. So it can be there, the Government can be as responsive and as aware as possible of what the conditions on the ground in Wakefield are.

“So that policy can be tailored as much as it can be to Wakefield, as well as other parts of this United Kingdom. Thanks makes sense.

“So it's to ensure that when we get out of this, our business community, still surviving, are still there to employ people to give people jobs, because I believe, above all else, business enterprise, especially small business is the backbone of our economy.”

To become involved with, or to seek help from, Wakefield Together call 01924 979900 or email [email protected]