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Government wasted £2 billion on unusable PPE, finds inquiry

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Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) intended for hospitals is still lying in storage, including £2 billion worth of items that are ‘not suitable for use’ in medical settings, a Committee has found.


The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) also said that the unused items are costing the government approximately £6.7 million a week to store.

The PAC said potential waste levels are “unacceptably high”: “We concluded that the Department had wasted hundreds of millions of pounds on PPE which was poor quality and could not be used for its intended purpose,” says the announcement.

Dame Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said: “With eye watering sums of money spent on Covid measures so far the government needs to be clear, now, how this will be managed going forward, and over what period of time.”

“If coronavirus is with us for a long time, the financial hangover could leave future generations with a big headache."

Unused PPE items are costing the government approximately £6.7 million a week to store, finds the Committee

The Committee hearing, which took place on 21 July, is part of an inquiry, examining the scale of Government’s Covid-19-related contracting, how procurement rules have changed and how the government is managing the risks associated with these changes.

The Committee has made several recommendations for the department for Health and Social Care. This includes to work to understand the experience of frontline staff, including reported disparities in the experience of Black and minority ethnic staff with respect to PPE access and testing, and links between PPE shortages and staff deaths and infections.

A government response to the Inquiry was expected on 25 September. But a DHSC spokesperson said: “There are robust processes in place to ensure that government spending always provides value for money for the taxpayer.

“We have worked tirelessly to source life-saving PPE to protect health and care staff, and we have delivered over 12.7 billion items to the frontline at record speed.”

Read the announcement from the PAC here

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