Vast amounts of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) intended for hospitals is still lying in storage, including £2.9 billion worth of items that are ‘not suitable for use’ in medical settings, a Committee has confirmed.
The Public Accounts Committee also found that the unused items are costing the government approximately £6.7 million a week to store.
The PAC said potential waste levels are “unacceptably high”: “We concluded that the Department had wasted hundreds of millions of pounds on PPE which was poor quality and could not be used for its intended purpose,” says its report of the 19 July.
The Department of Health and Social Care accepted that the urgent need for PPE meant it accepted greater risks when buying PPE than it usually would.
Dame Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said: “With eye watering sums of money spent on Covid measures so far the government needs to be clear, now, how this will be managed going forward, and over what period of time.
"The ongoing risk to the taxpayer will run for 20 years on things like arts & culture recovery loans, let alone the other new risks that departments across Government must quickly learn to manage.”
The report is part of a government inquiry, which is expected to start in spring 2022 and will take years to complete.
Dame Meg Hillier added: "As well as monitoring procurement and its effectiveness through the next few years, the PAC will be watching this spending and risk for decades to come. If coronavirus is with us for a long time, the financial hangover could leave future generations with a big headache."
Read the report from the PAC here
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