Claims there was no ‘shortage of PPE’ an ‘insult’ to healthcare workers, say Labour

Matt Hancock told Andrew Marr that the UK “didn’t have a national shortage of PPE”.

Matt Bodell
25 February 2021
PPE Hospital

The government is not sure where billions of pounds worth of personal protective equipment is currently located.

The Labour Party has publically demanded that the Health Secretary issue an apology for claiming that there was no national shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE).

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In an interview with Andrew Marr on Sunday Health Secretary Matt Hanock said that his team was spending “7 days a week, often 18 hours a day getting hold of the equipment that was saving lives” insisting on three occasions that the UK “didn’t have a national shortage of PPE”.

This claim was called out by Labour Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth who has now called on Mr Hancock to apologise and commit to recovering all public money paid for defective equipment.

Across the UK, at least 930 health and care workers to date have died and many more are suffering from long-term adverse effects of COVID-19.

Ashworth told MPs that “everybody knows” there were PPE shortages and added: “The National Audit Office reported on it. We saw nurses resorting to bin bags and curtains for makeshift PPE. Hundreds of NHS staff died.

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“His response was to pay a pest control firm £59m for 25 million masks that couldn’t be used; to pay a hedge fund based in Mauritius £252m again for face masks, which were inadequate; and to pay a jeweller in Florida £70m for gowns that couldn’t be used.

“So will he take this opportunity to apologise and will he commit to recovering every penny piece of tax payers’ money from those companies who provided us with duff PPE.”

Commenting this morning, ahead of the parliamentary session, shadow health minister Rosena Allin-Khan described the claim made by Hancock on The Andrew Marr Show as an “insult” to frontline workers.

“Many frontline workers had to ration protective equipment, putting themselves at risk,” Allin-Khan, who is also a doctor, said. “Lots of it was inadequate and poorly fitting, and some NHS staff had to make gowns themselves from bin bags.”

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Gareth Davies, Head of the National Audit Office, recently revealed while being questioned by the public accounts committee that the government is not sure where billions of pounds worth of personal protective equipment is currently located.

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