MPs have given the government a two-month ultimatum to ensure sufficient PPE stocks are in place in health and social care in the event of a second coronavirus wave.
The Public Accounts Committee said it expects the Department for Health and Social Care to clarify its governance arrangements and outline when its expects to have a predictable supply of stock and ready access to PPE within two months of a report published last week.
Meg Hillier MP, chair of the Committee, said: “The government conducted a large pandemic practice exercise in 2016 but failed to prepare. The previous committee warned on the lack of plans to ensure access to medicines and equipment in the social care sector in the event of a no deal Brexit, but, again, the government failed to prepare. There must be total focus now on where the problems were in procurement and supply in the first wave, and on eradicating them.”
The committee said it was “extremely concerned” by widely reported PPE shortages during the first wave of the pandemic and said the issue was still not being treated with sufficient urgency by government.
But the Department of Health and Social Care said it “does not accept these claims.
“We have been working around the clock to deliver PPE to the frontline throughout this global pandemic, working with industry, the NHS and the armed forces to create a distribution network to supply over 58,000 settings,” a spokesperson said.
“Two billion items of PPE have now been delivered and almost 28 billion items have been ordered from UK-based manufacturers and international partners to provide a continuous supply, which will meet the future needs of health and social care staff.
“We will continue to give the NHS whatever it needs and protect it for the future – we have written off £13.4 billion of NHS hospital debt, recently announced another £1.5 billion of capital investment and we will deliver 50,000 more nurses by end of this Parliament.”