Steven Mifsud at new Dubai office (1)

A Nantwich firm which helped source thousands of critical ventilators for COVID-19 patients in the UK, hit out at the Government after it delayed on the deal too long and lost them.

Award-winning company Direct Access helped source 5,000 life-saving ventilators and millions of COVID19 test kits through its UAE partner Topland.

Their work helped give them access to suppliers/manufacturers throughout the world such as Dubai-based Topland Trading.

Seven days ago, Direct Access boss Steven Mifsud contacted the Dept of Health with the offer of 5,000 new ventilators. This was followed two days later with a potential 50 million self-test COVID-19 kits.

He said Crewe & Nantwich MP Kieran Mullan also helped to communicate the offer to Sec of State for Health Matt Hancock’s office.

The firm registered on the “ventilator challenge” page on the The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) website.

But five days later, Health bosses still had not made a decision and the supplies were then snapped up by other customers.

Mr Mifsud said: “Time is a luxury that we as a nation do not have.

“This virus does not wait for anyone and every second costs lives.

“Look at Italy, Iran and China.

covid19 ventilators

“The idea of getting existing British companies to learn how to manufacture ventilators is not the route forward, we do not have time.

“I am incredibly frustrated with the British Government and the current ‘manana’ attitude.

“The Prime Minister himself said there was a shortage and companies needed to gear up to meet demand.”

He said despite the communication, the only reply they received from DoH was a “thank you” and that “you are in our system”.

Andy Faulkner, the manager of Topland, said: “I quoted a country for one million thermometers with air freight and they confirmed the order the same day.

“Earlier this afternoon I had a meeting with venture capitalists and they closed a deal within hours.

“The delay and dithering of the British Government is absolutely astonishing.”

Mr Mifsud added: “From my personal standpoint, Direct Access is being kept alive due to our international contracts as the UK work has completely dried up.

“However, this is not important right now and this period can be likened to wartime. We can pick up the pieces later.

“It is my duty to try and help our Government and local MP as much as I can regardless of whether they are accepting or not.

“To his credit Dr Mullan MP has been very responsive. However it looks like things are bogged down in procedures and bureaucracy. This costs lives.”

He said they were told by the Department of Health that they have had “over 1,400 lines of requests and enquiries” and that this “will take time”.

“But on March 21 we were told the supplies had gone and it is now likely to be June or July at the earliest due to other countries taking the manufacturing slots.”

Yesterday (March 22), Direct Access and Topland managed to find 500 ventilators ready for immediate pick up from another source.

Mr Mifsud said he immediately contacted the Government Ventilator challenge body but just received an auto-responder 24 hours later.

Crewe and Nantwich MP Dr Mullan said: “The Dept of Health has received an enormous volume of enquiries and is inevitably going to respond to each one straight away.

“I want to thank Steven for his efforts and I am continuing to press for them to be looked at. I think the public will understand the enormous challenges we are facing.”

We have contacted Department of Health and are awaiting a comment.

But in a reply to Mr Mifsud seen by Nantwich News, a spokesperson said: “Cabinet Office have confirmed and apologised for being slow to respond to all offers made via the BEIS registration page, but this has been due to the huge amounts of offers they have received.

“The team are working hard to deal with the shortage of ventilators and are doing the best they can in matching relevant offers of support.

“They intend to reach out to companies to inform them if their offer has been accepted, and everyone who registered on the website should be contacted early this week, so please do be patient.

“The BEIS website will be updated to say that they will not be accepting any further offers.”


  1. Yeah, not like that time the Government gave a ferry contract to a company that had no ships, right?

  2. The handling of this emergency by Boris has been so bad, that no-one could have made a worse job of it.

    • I too offered million items PPE when doctors, nurses and patients were dying through shortages. we could have delivered in days but so-called Covid-19 response team do not respond unless it seems you pay them to ‘honour’ you with orders

  3. At a time like this I imagine that there are hundreds to thousands of ‘chancers’ trying to insert themselves into this supply chain to make money without actually doing very much. It seems to me that this company is not a manufacturer of the product, and is also not a reselller or distrubutor of the product. The approval status of the product is also unclear. This situation is such that Gov will be looking to work direct with Manufacturers and so I’m not that surprised that this guy has been passed over.

  4. To little to late is the government in power at the moment.
    I don’t know about anyone else but I wouldn’t trust the pm with my life.
    He may have been the ideal leader for Brexit but he is not the right candidate for the current situation.

  5. So Direct Access are a 3rd Party Reseller for TopLand (Dubai), who are a 3rd party reseller for a manufacturer (or maybe another 3rd party reseller). Lots of middle men trying to make a buck. I am sure it is all done for the good of the country. So who makes the ventilator, and can we have their number.

    • The problem with having ventilators manufactured in the UK by non-specialists (e.g. Brexiteer vacuum cleaner manufacturers), is that once the design is approved and prototype approved, each ventilator needs to be tested by other machines during and after production, before it can be used. These machines are not in abundance and will limit production capacity. We should be taking ventilators from any source that we can get them, because we are now having to decide who will get treatment and who will be left to die.

  6. Oh how dreary and expected. Another boring dig at the Government because Labour are so much better. Don’t make me laugh. Can you imagine the likes of Dianne Abbott being in control of the response to this emergency? It would be absolute chaos because they really couldn’t organise the piss up you’re talking about. Time we got shot of these antisemitic communists that are masquerading as ‘opposition’ at present.

    • Why are you deflecting criticism from a government which has been in power for over TEN years? WTF has this to do with Dianne Abbot FFS?

  7. Kevin Illy says:

    Have a look at the accounts of the business net assets of circa £62,000, 5 minutes of fame. This is the problem the Government has it has to shift through credible and non credible offers and evaluate what is on offer in terms of credibility of the product and the ability of the business to deliver.

    • Spot on.

      • What has a company’s net assets got to do with it? They don’t need to own stock to re sell.

        • Basically its clearly a relatively small entity acting as some sort of matchmaker in the supply chain. Just an opportunist trying to use publicity to inflate their significance in the process. Just hand over the manufacturers contact details to the Gov and I’m sure we’d all be gratefull. Trying to embarrass the Gov for some commercial gain is pathetic.

        • Antony Gillingham says:

          Well the bar is f**King dry at the moment Ken!

        • No but they do need to be able to finance it. Or are you suggesting the UK government should just give this company, with virtually no assets, millions of pounds and trust them to then buy the machines and supply them?

  8. Without all the facts it is impossible to know if this deal was worth the government’s time – who’s to say that the gov hasn’t bought these ventilators directly from the supplier themselves, missing out profiteering middle-men?
    The trader is obviously upset about missing out on their deal, but I’m not convinced it is a newsworthy story (or anything other than inflammatory click-bait). Impossible to fact-check so probably shouldn’t be run IMO.

  9. This government couldn’t organise a piss up at Weatherspoons. Not enough humans to deal with the offers like this. Not enough NHS staff because the Tories have deprived the NHS of funding and destroyed moral. Not enough ventilators despite several warnings over the past 8 years that the NHS would not have enough in a pandemic. Not enough PPE to protect our brave doctors and nurses, who are putting their lives at risk to save ours. I just saw an anaesthetist on TV in tears because she has young children and fears for her own life as she’s constantly exposed to Covid-19. This is simply not acceptable in a country as wealthy as the UK. Time we got shot of these fascists!

  10. Should give them away. There is no room for worrying about cost now. Money is just about worthless. The only companies making any are the supermarket chains. Their CEOs and shareholders are going to be the nouveau riche when COVID-19 is finally controlled.

  11. So who are the manufacturers? Have they been medically approved by any government?
    There’s no shortage of junk on the market looking for gullible buyers.

    • 1000%

      The missing details seem like they were expecting the government, who would be held to account to just go along with them.

      5 days isn’t a long time in business

  12. David Knowles says:

    So why didn’t he buy them and import them? He could have either kept them in storage for a week or two why the NHS and government make their decision. He would have been seen as a hero then. But no he didn’t want to risk it, even through he could easily sale them on to the Americans or others if the UK government didn’t want them.

    But even his 1500 is still 28,500 less than the NHS is after. An the tens of thousands other countries want. So bringing in new manufacturers is essential.

    • Robert Cheatle says:

      I would imagine that this company is a ‘middle man’. The Government has shown that it is prepared to give orders to Ferry Companies without Ferries and now a order to a Ventilator Company without Ventilators. Even if a gloried vacuum cleaner can be made into a ventilator, it will still have to pass its performance and reliability tests before it can be marketed in the UK. This seems to be giving this business to a Brexit Supporter ahead of existing validated companies, or am I just being very cynical?

      • Robert Cheatle says:

        PS I was not referring to the Middle Man as validated but to all the other companies which produce approved ICU Ventilators which need to ramp up production. This will be simpler and more certain than developing them from scratch. As to battery operated requirement, this would need to exceed the life of the current expensive vacuums which Dyson produces. This order seems to be a big punt in the dark. Only time will tell if they not only pass initial testing but go on to be reliable.

      • cynical more like stupid with mention of brexit FFS move on your life is wasting

    • The government is stupid – that’s why and you’re not too bright either.

  13. They also need to be approved as safe by the MHRA, as do all medical devices – the department set up to avoid another Thalidomide. They are stretched and cant do it in two days.

    • Caz Hedges says:

      However, they are quite *happy* to order their Brexiteer mate James ‘my vacuum cleaners totally suck* Dyson, who has moved his business to Singapore, to supply them. Go figure.

      • Vacuum cleaners are supposed to suck.

      • Michael Waite says:

        Nothing ordered from Dyson yet. His company, like any other would have to meet all the spec reqts which are published on line., The software requirements were only published in detail yesterday, although there were preliminary docs. There are several UK companies interested in helping here, but most will fall by the wayside long before testing of their products gets underway. MHRA will accept or reject all available offerings.

      • The supply of these things its about a supplier having sufficient scale. The units themselves are not particularly complicated. It makes sense for the Gov to work with Co’s that are mass manufacturing similar products. Ther Brexit thing is nonsense.

    • Thomas James says:

      You can’t really compare a ventilator to a drug like Thalidamide!

  14. Nah, Stephanie wins, why not purchase and deal them out and worry about the money later. We all know these things take time with the government but no, it’s all about the profit… Some people!

    • Paul Weaver says:

      Because most small businesses don’t have £30 million in the bank

    • Dave these machines are not exactly cheap, companies cannot just spend many millions buying them at their own risk in the hope the UK Govt will buy them – they need formal legal purchase orders! That’s basic business practice… What would this company do if they’d bought the ventilators, soent money on international transport and a warehouse, and then the UK Govt said no???!

  15. Barry Worthington says:

    the government aren`t interested in helping the sick and elderly and the sooner we all realise that the better.

  16. Why did you just not deliver them to hospitals yourself and look after the people here before your profits.

    • Tom Pepper says:

      Why didn’t the government sort their act out?? Why so much dithering and time wasting?

      Because they don’t care! They want to cull the population and hope the elderly and the vulnerable will be the ones chopped out of the population.
      If you voted for Boris you’re basically a murderer!

      • Dithering and time wasting? He gave them 5 days to come up with £30m. He should understand that this isn’t long enough to substantiate the quality or approve payment of this amount.

    • Didn’t you read the article?

    • You’re asking a company to purchase 5000 ventilators and millions of test kits, then organise fleets to distribute and cover all costs and logistics without permissions? Why do you think we have a government? Have you worked out the manpower and costs involved here. How many respirators and testing kits have you hunted down, purchased and distributed to date? Please read the article properly before you make presumptions.

    • These machines are between £25,000 and £50,000. How do you expect any business to speculatively buy and pay for well over £150 million of equipment with no agreement from their only customer (the Government)? Do you actually understand how this kind of deal works? Is everyone in business just hugely wealthy in your world?

      • Every major health service in the world is after these. He could have brought them, kept them in storage to make sure the UK has first dibs on them. If the NHS didn’t want them or didn’t need them, he could have easily sold them in many of the other countries that are after them.

        • David,

          Please take the time to read the article and comments posted before replying repeatedly with the same point.

          You’re rather wasting everybody’s time with this approach.

          Other comments, including one from Steven Mifsud, have already pointed out he doesn’t have £30million in the bank to do as you suggested.


        • And where would he get the huge amount of money required to pay for them?

          • …the government came up with billions of pounds just the other day and it always comes up with money to help the likes of branson, etc…this government doesn’t give a shit about people, that’s the bottom line…imo…

    • Stephanie: “Why did you just not deliver them to hospitals yourself”

      Because he didn’t actually have them in his possession at the time; they were in another country. Then while the “Government” dithered, someone else snapped them up.

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