Paul Deighton has been appointed to a key role in Britain's fight against coronavirus ©Getty Images

Former London 2012 chief executive Paul Deighton has been appointed to boost the production of personal protection equipment (PPE) for health workers treating COVID-19 patients in Britain.

Lord Deighton will "lead a singular and relentless focus on PPE as the country’s top manufacturing priority, with the full weight of the Government behind him", Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.

The appointment of the 64-year-old comes amid criticism from doctors and health workers over shortages of PPE, considered crucial for those on the frontline in battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shortages of equipment, including masks, visors and gowns, have been reported in the country, while National Health Service staff have been told to wear plastic aprons if stocks run out.

The British Government has faced criticism over a shortage of PPE ©Getty Images
The British Government has faced criticism over a shortage of PPE ©Getty Images

The Sunday Times today reported Britain sent 279,000 pieces of PPE to China, where the virus originated, in February, despite having depleted stocks of the equipment.

"Countries around the world face unprecedented demand for personal protective equipment and this necessitates an equally unprecedented domestic manufacturing response," said Lord Deighton, who served as commercial secretary to the Treasury from January 2013 to May 2015.

"I look forward to bringing together new partners in the pursuit of this single goal: to get our dedicated frontline workers the essential equipment they need.

"This effort calls for exceptional teamwork and I am confident that we, together, will rise to this challenge."