£8.7bn written off by Government in relation to Covid pandemic PPE


Some £8.7 billion spent by the Government on personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic has been written off, according to annual accounts.

New documents from the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) show huge amounts wasted on useless equipment, while millions of pounds has been spent getting out of contracts or storing PPE at ports.

According to the 2020/21 accounts, some £673 million worth of equipment was found to be totally unusable, and £750 million was spent on items that were not used before their expiry date.

Nearly £2.6 billion was spent on “items not suitable for use in the NHS,” but which the department thinks can be sold or given to charities.

The DHSC also said the value of its remaining stock had been slashed by £4.7 billion as the price of PPE dropped.

A consignment of NHS medical supplies and PPE from China
A consignment of NHS medical supplies and PPE from China (PA)

At the start of the pandemic, prices for protective equipment rose sharply as countries clamoured to get hold of items such as face masks.

The accounts further reveal that the DHSC expects that equipment that was scheduled to be delivered after the end of the financial year will lose £1.2 billion in value.

The Government was also charged £111.5 million for not moving containers full of PPE from a port to their storage facility on time.

Also in the accounts is a loss relating to fruit and vegetables after the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme (SFVS) was temporarily suspended when all schools were closed.

The DHSC had already contracted to pay for produce to be delivered to schools, leading to a loss of £1.25m, which comprised distribution costs of £657,000 and produce costs of £590,000.

The DHSC said it had donated £247,000 of the fruit and veg to food charities.

Further losses recorded in the annual accounts include £1.1 million amounting to the value of 70% of an undelivered order for ventilators “which did not fully meet functionality requirements at the time”.

The accounts said: “Consequently, the remainder of the order was cancelled. As the supplier had technically met the contract’s specification and had already incurred costs, 30% of the contract value was unable to be recovered.”