The Government has written off £9.9bn of the £13.6bn it spent on personal protective equipment (PPE) in the pandemic due to the gear being unusable or having lost its value. Sky News has the story.
Accounts published by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) also show the Government has no idea exactly how much PPE it has stored.
“Nearly all” of the PPE held in warehouses or containers is set for disposal.
DHSC said some of the PPE it had “was not usable by the department because it was defective or not suitable for use within the health and social care sector”.
“Other PPE was not defective, but the department will not be able to use it before its expiry date,” it added.
Gareth Davies, the Head of the National Audit Office, said for the past two years he had to limit his investigations because he was “unable to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to support the PPE recorded in the department’s accounts”.
He said the Government estimates it would cost £70m to take a full stock-take of the PPE that is currently held.
Because of the change of market conditions and the state of the equipment, material the Government spent £13.6bn on is now worth £3.7bn – a decrease of 73%.
Critics pointed out the £9.9 billion wasted is “more than it would cost to give every nurse in the NHS a 100% bonus on their salary”.
A cross-party report from the Public Accounts Committee of MPs in June 2022 said the department’s “haphazard purchasing strategy” meant money had been wasted on unusable products.