Are Tories 'Good with money'? Episode 2
By Peter Dobbs
In an article in the Guardian it has been revealed that almost 5bn items of personal protective equipment worth £2.7bn will be wasted as they are no longer needed or cannot safeguard NHS staff, ministers have revealed.
An innocent sounding question by Lib Dem MP Wendy Chamberlain has revealed another example of a poorly controlled procurement exercise during the panic in government that followed the first phase of the Covid crisis. She had asked the Health Minister Edward Argar about how much of the PPE that had been procured had then not been used.
The answer revealed the following;
36.4 billion items ordered
3.4 billion "potential excess stock"
1.2 billion deemed not fit for use
The last two figures represent a cost to the taxpayer of £2.7 billion
Edward Argar added that 6.96bn items of the 36.4bn ordered so far "are not currently provided to frontline services". That could be because it was new stock that had not yet been through quality assurance checks or not deployed because "a different product is preferred".
Dr Jenny Vaughan, the chair of the Doctors' Association UK, a grassroots network of NHS medics, said: "The distinction between making sure there is enough protection and keeping stock levels so high [that] much will go to waste seems to have been well and truly lost, along with taxpayers' money wasted.
"We recognise the need to make sure staff continue to be protected but every pound squandered is a pound that cannot be spent elsewhere in the NHS, where every pound counts. The government needs to be completely open about how this is happening, and where the money went."