The Daily Mail has bought more than 20 tons of protective coveralls and masks from China and arranged to fly them into Heathrow last night.
Under its new charity Mail Force, the paper funded £1m of the essential supplies needed, it says, to support the NHS.
A 787 Dreamliner passenger plane was loaded with 150,000 items of protective equipment. The paper said in its leader comment that words alone are not enough and it was time to dive into the fray themselves.
Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of the NHS, paid tribute to the campaign’s efforts: “On behalf of the NHS, our great thanks go to everyone involved in this for helping to provide us and our nurses, doctors and other staff with this extra kit.
“Since the NHS was founded more than 70 years ago, our staff and patients have been helped and supported by volunteers, philanthropists and many others – this Mail Force campaign sits firmly in that important tradition.”
The Health Secretary Matt Hancock thanked the Daily 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.”
The paper said last night’s flight would be the first in a series of airlifts to assist the NHS with PPE shortages faced by workers fighting the frontline of coronavirus crisis.
The new charity Mail Force was created with an initial fighting fund of £4million, with £1m each provided from the Daily Mail, asset management company Marshall Wace, software giant Salesforce and Salesforce founder Marc Benioff.
The Mail proprietor Viscount Rothermere donated a further £150,000 to the campaign with the Rothermere/ Harmsworth family giving £100,000.
Since the start of the Covid-19 emergency, the NHS has used 140 million masks and 1.8 million fluid-resistant isolation gowns to protect workers from the virus on the frontline.
The paper said that all sourcing of PPE equipment has followed careful checks with the NHS and Department of Health to ensure the items are approved and of standard.
In its leader comment, the Mail explained they are working with the government to ensure Mail Force does not compete with the government for the same kit and bids for the supplies that are most desperately needed.
Once the charity sourced and purchased the equipment at competitive rates, they began flying it to the UK using one of the many passenger planes currently grounded due to lockdown.
The Mail comment added, “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 is calling on readers to donate to keep its appeal going. To donate, click here.