ALL of the 400,000 gowns flown in from Turkey for coronavirus medics last month fell short of UK standards and were deemed "useless" by health and safety inspectors.
With pressure mounting on the government's handling of the crisis, the vital personal protective equipment has been impounded in a warehouse outside Heathrow Airport.
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The PPE delivery had been heralded by ministers as crucial help in tackling the UK shortage. The NHS uses 150,000 a day.
Delivery of the crucial equipment – dubbed Air Jenrick" after the Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick – was delayed.
It finally arrived three days late but only carrying 32,000 gowns.
When the full amount did reach the UK, inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive found the gowns were faulty and did not conform to UK standards.
NHS trusts who had been promised the much-needed PPE were then told deliveries had been scrapped.
Mark Roscrow, the chairman of the Health Care Supplies Association, which represents NHS procurement teams, told the Daily Telegraph: "Something very wrong has happened here.
"It's not clear to me why we weren't able to obtain samples in the usual way, and to see that these gowns weren't fit for purpose.
"We are being told that the people in charge know how to secure this vital equipment on our behalf, but the checks and balances clearly haven't been applied correctly.
"This equipment is still desperately needed at the front line, especially as hospitals begin to reopen other services which also require high quality PPE."
Millions of masks flown in from factories in China have also been seized and impounded after being found to fall below UK standards.
A spokesman for the Department of Health would not say exactly what was wrong with the equipment.
Senior NHS sources told the Telegraph problems had been found with the type of material used and the length of the sleeves.
Terrified NHS staff are having to wear scuba masks, bin bags, kitchen aprons and even holding their breath to treat patients thanks to the "utter shambles" of the PPE crisis.
Nurses and doctors also use swim and ski goggles, out-of-date masks and put clinical waste bags on their heads and feet as they risk their lives to help virus victims.
Nearly half of doctors have had to find their own protective equipment or rely on donations, says a survey by the British Medical Association.
One health worker said the PPE shortage was "an utter shambles from start to finish".
Photos of staff at Northwick Hospital in North London wearing clinical waste bags have been posted online.
Medics in Plymouth have worn scrubs made from old medical curtains sewn by volunteers.
Professor Andrew Goddard, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: "This is a truly terrible state of affairs. As a bare minimum we expect our health service to provide the equipment we need to protect ourselves and our patients."