THE PRIME Minister has been accused of putting Brexit over the heath of the nation as the UK failed to take part in an EU drive for medical supplies.

Last week the UK was invited to join the bloc's effort to use its procurement agreement to buy ventilators and other urgent supplies to tackle the pandemic.

Around 90% of the cost of the supplies are to be paid for by the European Commission, as part of measures in place to tackle global pandemics.

A spokesman for Boris Johnson this morning confirmed that the UK would not be taking part because "we are no longer members of the EU" and added that it was "an area where we are making our own efforts."

He explained: " We are conducting our own work on ventilators and we’ve had a very strong response from business and we’ve also procured ventilators from the private sector in the UK and from international manufacturers.”

It comes as the government announced that Dyson has been awarded a contract to start producing 10,000 units of the life-saving equipment, and clarified that there were around 8,000 ventilators currently available in the country.

As the machines have to pass quality tests it is unsure if, or when, when they will be available for use. The government will only purchase the machines if they pass regulatory controls.

The Liberal Democrats and the SNP have branded the decision foolish, with MP Layla Moran saying it was a "no brainer" to work with other nations to tackle the pandemic.

She said: "I wrote to the Government a week ago urging them to put pragmatism above ideological considerations and urgently opt in to the EU joint procurement scheme.

"Now I urge them to reconsider their devastating decision to not participate. We can't put Brexit over breathing - lives must come first."

Dr Philippa Whitford MP, the SNP’s Shadow Brexit spokesperson, said the virus "does not recognise borders or ideology" and added: "It is vital that the UK government does not turn its back on collaboration to tackle this virus and to protect our citizens.

“The UK government has been working well with the devolved governments across the UK, but cooperation with our EU neighbours, particularly in sourcing vital supplies, should be welcomed and engaged with – not shunned."