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Seven billion items of pandemic PPE 'not fit for purpose'

Nearly one in five items of personal protective equipment (PPE) the government bought during the pandemic are not fit for purpose and cannot be used by the NHS, it has been revealed – including 1.2 billion items that cannot be used at all.

As of December, almost 7 billion items of personal protective equipment bought for frontline services – 19.1% of the 36.4 billion items bought since February 2020 – had been marked “do not supply” to the NHS by the Department of Health and Social Care.

The number is more than three times the figure quoted last September, when health minister Lord Bethell admitted 1.9 billion items worth £2.8bn were in the “do not supply” category – 6.2% of the PPE bought up to that point.

The not-fit-for-purpose stock includes 1.2 billion units of PPE that cannot be used in any setting.

This "wastage" – which accounts for 3.3% of pandemic PPE – includes around 800m aprons that DHSC is now looking to recycle, permanent secretary Sir Chris Wormald said in a letter to the Public Accounts Committee.

The revelation comes as a consultation opens on the terms of reference for the public inquiry into the government's response to Covid. The inquiry will look at pandemic preparedness and the healthcare response, among other things.

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Source: Civil Service World, 11 March 2022


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