Nurses furious as Tories plan to burn £4bn of useless PPE to generate electricity

The Public Finance Committee reveals the Government has lost 75% of the £12billion it spent on PPE in the first year of the coronavirus pandemic to overpricing and faulty equipment.

More cases of monkeypox have been detected in the UK

Nurses have reacted with anger at the government’s plans to burn £4billion worth of unusable personal protective equipment (PPE) to generate electricity.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) announces today that the government has lost 75% of the £12 billion it spent on PPE in the first year of the coronavirus pandemic to overpricing and faulty equipment.

That included £4billion that could not be used because it did not meet NHS standards.

Pat Cullen, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Our members will find this upsetting.

“It’s a painful reminder of the worst of the pandemic – inadequate or wasteful PPE.

Clinical staff wear personal protective equipment while caring for a patient in the intensive care unit


Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“Billions of pounds going up in smoke when the NHS and care services are struggling will be difficult for them to understand.

“If that money had been used wisely and if decent quality PPE had been bought in the first place, then perhaps the nurses’ lives could have been saved.

“If we’re really going to learn the lessons, it will be critical that the forthcoming public inquiry establishes the causes and is clear about where mistakes were made so that they are never repeated.”

At the beginning of the pandemic, medical workers used makeshift protective equipment with plastic bags, as many health and care workers died from Covid-19.

PAC chair Dame Meg Hillier said the Department of Health and Social Care had done little to “put its house in order” after wasting “huge amounts” of public money.

The Labor MP said: “The story of the PPE purchase is perhaps the most shameful episode in the UK Government’s response to the pandemic.

“At the start of the pandemic, the lack of basic PPE left health and social care workers at risk of risking their own lives and those of their families.

“In a desperate bid to catch up, the government squandered vast sums of money, paying obscenely inflated prices and payments to middlemen in a chaotic rush while abandoning even the most superficial due diligence.

“This has left us with massive government contracts now under investigation by the National Crime Agency or contentious over allegations of modern slavery in the supply chain.”

Meg Hillier, Chair of the Labor MP and Public Finance Committee



The Department of Health and Social Care issued an unusually sharply worded rebuttal of the committee’s findings.

A spokesman said: “Some of these claims are misleading, including claims that we are incinerating 4 billion pounds of unusable PPE and that there is no clear disposal strategy for surplus PPE.

“In the face of an unpredictable and dangerous virus, we make no apologies for sourcing too much PPE instead of too little and only 3% of the PPE we sourced was unusable in any context.

“At the height of the pandemic, there was unprecedented global demand for PPE and massive inflation in PPE prices. But despite these global challenges, we have shipped over 19.8 billion items of PPE to frontline workers to keep them safe.”

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