An exercise simulating a coronavirus outbreak in Scotland, which was shared with a UK government advisory group, showed a “clear gap” in preparedness. A report into “Exercise Iris” revealed frontline staff “unease” over personal protective equipment and “the need for substantive progress”. The report was published after a Freedom of Information Act request by BBC News.

This exclusive report by Noel Titheradge and Faye Kirkland, was the lead story on the Today programme and was also reported online. It was followed up by the print media including on the front page of the Times of Scotland.


A leaked document seen by Dr Kirkland and Noel Titheradge showed health workers in the UK might have to re-use protective gowns and masks as a “last resort”. Emails  also showed that some hospitals have begun laundering single-use gowns to preserve stocks. The British Medical Association said this “underlines the urgency” of protective equipment shortages. Public Health England said the safe reuse of items was being considered. However, it said no decisions had been made.

Later that week this draft document formed the official policy on the reuse PPE for front line workers.

Dr Kirkland reported this for the Today programme, on the radio news bulletins and online.


An investigation by Dr Kirkland and Noel Titheradge found some key medicines used in intensive care were “in relatively short supply”. The supply of anaesthetic medicines in some areas were “a bit stretched”, according to the Royal College of Anaesthetists. One consultant has told the BBC that supplies are “running low” and alternatives are already being used in intensive care in the Midlands.The government says it is “aware there is an increase in demand for a number of intensive care drugs”.

Dr Kirkland reported this for online and it ran across the TV News bulletins and was featured on the Andrew Marr programme.


The guidance for health workers on personal protective equipment was expected to be updated within two days, the BBC has been told.There had been calls for greater clarity on PPE as frontline staff deal with coronavirus.The NHS Confederation said staff feel “at risk” of contracting Covid-19 unless they wear PPE for all patients.Documents also showed the NHS Supply Chain “hasn’t been able to manage” delivery of the items, such as masks, to them. The Department of Health did not confirm the guidance will be updated

The guidance was updated after on the 2nd of April, after discussion with the Royal Colleges on how best to update it.

This was reported online, across the radio bulletins, the Today programme and across the news channel.

Dr Kirkland was live on air on the BBC World Service and the BBC News Channel when it was announced the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, had been admitted to intensive care.


GPs demanded “urgent clarification” from the government on whether they should now wear protective equipment to examine all patients, as the number of patients in the community with covid-19 increased. Family doctors now wear it if they see a patient with suspected coronavirus.But the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has written to Health Secretary Matt Hancock to ask if GPs should wear it for all face-to-face consultations.  The BBC saw the letter exclusively, it says patients with the virus but no symptoms could still infect staff. The BBC understands GPs in some surgeries have decided to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) for all face-to-face consultations, but this is not currently recommended by Public Health England.


Dr Faye Kirkland and Noel Titheradge exclusively revealed three immigration removal centres in the UK were housing people with symptoms of coronavirus.  One of them, Brook House immigration removal centre (IRC) near Gatwick Airport, had been placed on “lockdown”, according to detainees. A High Court case later in the week would decide if detainees should be temporarily released while the coronavirus crisis is ongoing. The Home Office says it is following guidance from Public Health England.

This investigation was followed up in the print media.


As coronavirus spread widely across the UK, many of those who fall sick were seeking care at their GP’s surgery. Dr Kirkland looks at if family doctors were ready to deal with a wave of patients whilst preventing the spread of the disease and protecting the most vulnerable.


Dr Kirkland reports for BBC on how a GP surgery in North London was coping. Do they have enough Personal Protective Equipment? The Royal College of GPs highlighted the need to test frontline staff.


At the start of the crisis, there was guidance around testing patients who had been to a high-risk country in the past 14 days or have been in close contact with someone with coronavirus. However Dr Kirkland revealed testing concerns around patients who report a fever, cough and shortness of breath – the main coronavirus symptoms – but do not meet those criteria.GPs said they were having to make difficult decisions about where to see patients, if they could not be managed on the phone, and there was a lack of guidance about what to do for them.Some described measures such as seeing patients in a designated room or at the end of surgery. Others said they were wearing “catering aprons”, due to a lack of equipment.