Department of Health and Social Care
PPE contract legal challenge
Response to a challenge from Good Law Project to the Department of Health and Social Care on whether the government acted lawfully in awarding specific personal protective equipment (PPE) contracts.
Since this unprecedented global pandemic erupted our absolute priority throughout has always been saving lives. In a highly competitive global market, where many countries placed export bans on personal protective equipment (PPE), we delivered over 11 billion items of PPE to protect our frontline workers, including:
- 1.7 billion Type IIR face masks
- 100 million FFP3 face masks
- 48 million gowns
- 6.9 billion gloves
This vital supply helped keep the NHS open at a moment of national crisis and enabled it to deliver a world-class service to the public.
Globally there were significant logistical challenges in sourcing, procuring and distributing PPE. The rapid rise in international infection rates during the early stages of the pandemic created unparalleled demand for PPE.
We set up, from scratch, a new parallel supply chain to procure, manage and distribute life-saving PPE. This was an enormous cross-government effort, drawing upon expertise from a number of departments together with fantastic support from the military and private sector partners. Officials worked day and night to secure these contracts. We prioritised procurement and we make no apology for that.
As the 2020 National Audit Office (NAO) report recognised, all of the NHS providers they spoke to were always able to get what they needed in time. This was thanks to the collective efforts of government, the NHS, armed forces, civil servants and industry.
In this unique situation, we had to change how we approached risk. The risks that the contracts might not perform needed to be balanced against the risk to the health of frontline workers, the NHS and the public if we failed to get the PPE we so desperately needed.
Decisions on whether to award contracts for PPE are taken by officials and the NAO found no evidence ministers were involved in procurement decisions.
Good Law Project is challenging the Department of Health and Social Care on whether the government acted lawfully in awarding specific contracts. These legal proceedings relate to just 9 of the 332 PPE contracts the department signed during a period of extremely high and urgent need.
The claims must also be balanced with the success of a programme since the beginning of the pandemic:
- In April 2020, we issued a call to arms for new suppliers of PPE. We received an extraordinary response and are grateful to all those who rose to the challenge. These offers were prioritised on the speed for getting PPE to the frontline, to keep people safe, and the scale a supplier could deliver
- To date we have delivered over 11 billion items of PPE to the frontline
- The delivery of billions of items of PPE has been possible largely due to the creation of the PPE portal, our online platform developed and delivered through the Department of Health and Social Care partnering with eBay, Clipper Logistics, Royal Mail, the NHS, Volo and the military. To date, we have delivered 2.8 billion items of PPE through the portal. We established a 4-month stockpile of PPE across all major categories, by the end of November 2020
The government continues to fight this pandemic and that should not be forgotten. Over the course of April 2021, we distributed 1 billion items of PPE to the health and social care sector while helping to reopen society. This includes providing masks to allow the safe reopening of schools and to ensure people had access to these at polling stations.
We are committed to transparency. Ahead of the legal proceedings, we are making the Department of Health and Social Care’s skeleton argument available.
To save lives, we focused our efforts, our resources and our attention on sourcing PPE. We stand by our efforts to prioritise protecting frontline workers and citizens.
Latest News from
Department of Health and Social Care
UK travel update: government waives quarantine for arrivals fully vaccinated from Europe and USA while also confirming international cruise restart28/07/2021 16:07:00
The latest steps towards reopening international travel make it easier for people vaccinated in Europe or the USA to travel to England.
UK begins donating millions of COVID-19 vaccines overseas28/07/2021 12:27:00
Foreign Secretary announces the UK will begin to deliver 9 million COVID-19 vaccines around the world to help tackle the pandemic.
Action to tackle misery of drug misuse28/07/2021 11:27:00
The government has appointed Dame Carol Black as an independent advisor on drug misuse and will publish an ambitious new drug strategy later this year.
Daily contact testing expands to 2,000 sites across critical sectors28/07/2021 10:10:10
The government recently (Monday 26 July) expanded daily contact testing with 1,200 new sites across frontline sectors, helping to avoid disruption to crucial services.
Campaign launched to help public get healthy this summer27/07/2021 14:38:00
PHE has launched the latest Better Health campaign to encourage adults across the nation to lose excess weight, eat more healthily and get active this summer.
Daily contact testing rolled out to further critical sectors27/07/2021 10:10:10
Daily contact testing will be offered to more emergency service and critical workers who would otherwise need to self isolate
Extra COVID-19 support deployed to North East26/07/2021 15:10:00
The government is deploying additional support to the twelve local authorities in the North East.
Food industry Covid testing rolled out to support sector26/07/2021 11:22:00
Environment Secretary George Eustice and Health Secretary Sajid Javid have outlined plans for daily contact testing for the food and drink industries.