In 2009, New Labour established a PPE stockpiling system, but the Tories left it to rot. In June 2019, the government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group warned that stockpiles needed replenishing. The warnings were ignored. Beginning March this year, the government downgraded guidance on flu vaccine administration, hospital gowns, and masks instead of comprehensively dealing with shortages.
Since then, the UK has spent more on PPE than any other European country, yet with 60k dead it has by far the highest death-toll, both overall and one of the highest per capita. In Europe, over 60 percent of PPE contracts were awarded to companies without bidding (untendered). But in the UK, the figure is over 70 percent.
So, with PPE standards downgraded, to whom were the contracts awarded? Tory chums, mainly. Anthony Page, for example, quit his role managing business for the Tory peer Michelle Mone reportedly to set up a new company, based on the Isle of Man, called PPE Medpro. It was awarded £122m by the Tories without tender.
By September, an estimated £364m-worth of public money had been handed to Tory-linked corporations, some of them new microbusinesses with no PPE procurement expertise, without bids or competition. These include: £1.3m to Clipper Logistics (owned by Tory donor Steve Parkin); £93.8m to the healthcare provider and Tory donor, Globus (Shetland); £148m to Meller Designs (a beauty product supplier owned by Tory donor, David Meller); and over £120m to P14 Medical (owned by Tory councillor, Steve Dechan).
Apart from the moral question of giving untendered contracts to donors and party members, there is the issue of safety. There have been no complaints about any of the above companies, but consider the Ayanda Capital fiasco.