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Why is there a lack of PPE? PPE and Public Sector Contracts.

Journalists have been having fun at the government’s expense on the PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) issue but what is actually happening? Why haven’t UK manufacturers been engaged to cope with the shortfall?  The answer seems to lie with NHS purchasing.

The NHS has demonstrated true public sector flair by reducing its supplier base for PPE to a single supplier for surgical gowns under it’s NCP Programme.

It awarded the supply of surgical gowns to IMS Euro Ltd which is a wholesaler that obtains products globally.  Prior to this deal eleven other suppliers and manufacturers all provided product.

It awarded most of the supply of surgical gloves to the Malaysian company Supermax, 20% of the contract to Malaysian Semperit and 20% to the Singaporean company Unigloves.

There has been no attempt to ensure that the UK has a strategic, domestic supply of PPE and no attempt to foster the UK healthcare industry.  This is at best dubious behaviour by a national monopoly consumer and reflects the poor management standards in the NHS.

Strategic industries should become an important issue now that the UK governs itself.  It is shocking that even with the current emergency a high proportion of PPE is being sourced preferentially from China and other overseas sources (despite the fact that there is a 50/50 chance of trade reprisals against China).  The UK mainly supplies bags and detergent. The NHS has deliberately run down the UK capability in healthcare, what could have been a national asset for UK industry of a state run NHS has been squandered.

Poor management in the NHS is also apparent in community care.

NHS Contracts are cumbersome and complete in the extreme. However, the NHS has caught itself out with the rigour of its contracts. As an example, in the 80 page supplementary part of NHS STANDARD COMMUNITY SERVICES CONTRACT (MULTILATERAL) (module C of a 4 part contract) it states that:

42.7 In the event of a Major Incident the Commissioners shall provide the Provider with such further assistance as may reasonably be required by the Provider to deal with the Major Incident.

Contracted community service providers are waiting for NHS Management to comply.

Also see  Saving the NHS for more on NHS Management.

This article was originally published by the author on his personal blog: https://pol-check.blogspot.com/2020/04/ppe-and-public-sector-contracts.html

About John Sydenham

Profile photo of John Sydenham
Dr John Sydenham has worked in International Pharmaceuticals and for one of the "big four" International Consultancies. He ran a successful company for 15 years and after selling the company devotes his time to travel, science, black labradors and freedom.

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