A delivery of personal protective equipment (PPE) from Turkey has been deemed unusable, after failing to meet British safety standards.
Medical gowns are thought to have been impounded, after being brought to the UK in the first of three emergency deliveries to RAF Brize Norton by an A400M Atlas aircraft last month.
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said gowns that arrived from Turkey turned out to "not be of the quality that we feel is good enough for our frontline staff".
Speaking on Sky News, Mr Lewis said: "When we’re securing PPE from around the world you do it based on a set of standards that you’re looking to acquire to, but obviously once it’s here we check that it is good enough for what we want to use and in this instance some of this PPE turned out not to be good enough.
"There was a view that it was good enough PPE, it is only when it has got here that teams have looked at it again and taken a view that it is not up to the right standard and they’ve decided not to use it," he continued.
"I think it is right that if we have got particular standards for what we want our frontline staff to be able to have access to we make sure we stick to that.
"If something isn’t right, if we’re not even sure about it then I think it is better to be safe and not use that product and stick with products we are confident are the right products and the right standards."
An 84-tonne cargo was originally ordered last month for delivery from Turkey to help bolster UK coronavirus defences.
After delays, the British military responded by sending the A400M to collect the PPE, before sending another RAF Atlas and a C-17 that same week to complete the delivery to Oxfordshire.
In a statement, the Department of Health and Social Care said: "This is a global pandemic with many countries procuring PPE, leading to shortages around the world, not just the UK.
"We are working night and day to source PPE internationally and domestically and brought together the NHS, industry and the Armed Forces to create a comprehensive PPE distribution network to deliver critical supplies to the front line.
"All deliveries of PPE are checked to ensure the equipment meets the safety and quality standards our frontline staff need.
"If equipment does not meet our specifications or pass our quality assurance processes, it is not distributed to the front line."
It is not yet clear whether the Government will pursue a refund for the order.
More than 30,000 people who tested positive for COVID-19 have died in the UK.
Cover image: RAF A400m at Brize Norton after collecting delayed PPE kit from Turkey (Picture: PA).