Coronavirus: Conservative councillor PPE contracts questioned

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Nurse wearing PPE Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The authorities has spent £15bn on protecting gear for medical and care staff

The authorities is beneath stress to evaluation its Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) offers after a Tory councillor acquired main contracts.

The councillor’s firm, P14 Medical, was given contracts to produce face shields value £120m in complete.

Labour stated the federal government had “serious questions” to reply in regards to the PPE procurement course of.

The authorities stated it had a “robust process” to make sure prime quality PPE and business “due diligence”.

The authorities has spent £15bn on PPE because the coronavirus pandemic started, in keeping with a Treasury assertion earlier this week.

Of this, the main points of PPE contracts value £1.5bn have been revealed on the federal government’s web site.

Third largest contract

In responding to the coronavirus disaster, the federal government has forgone the tendering course of beneath which contracts are often handed out.

Instead, it has tended to make use of an emergency process, through which contracts are handed on to corporations with out competitors.

P14 Medical, primarily based in Stroud, Gloucestershire, was awarded two contracts value a complete of £120m to produce PPE to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

The deal was the third largest PPE contract awarded by the DHSC that has been revealed to date.

Steve Dechan, the director of P14 Medical, is a Conservative councillor on Stroud Town Council and campaigned for the native MP Siobhan Baillie on the 2019 election.

The firm, a specialist in ache administration applied sciences, was handed the contracts regardless of making a lack of £486,000 in 2019.

It recorded a £21,000 revenue the earlier 12 months.

‘Proud’

P14 informed the Financial Times the losses have been owing to heavy funding in new continual ache know-how that it plans to market in Europe and the Middle East this summer season.

It stated it had saved the federal government £55m on its face protect contracts, which had been accomplished “ahead of time and on budget”.

The contracts have been awarded on to the corporate with no aggressive tendering course of.

In an electronic mail, Mr Dechan informed the BBC: “We are an expert company that has been in medical supplies for eight years including PPE that has managed to deliver on a big contract that the ‘big companies’ could not.

“I solely know a pair MPs via native campaigning on points, solely met ministers (no present ones) on [general election] marketing campaign trails. Never mentioned PPE.”

He added: “We are so proud that we stood up and in contrast to many received it finished and guarded our clients.”

Labour shadow health minister Justin Madders said the contracts awarded to P14 Medical raised questions about transparency.

“On the face of it this firm’s connections to the Conservative Party look like stronger than their expertise in delivering PPE.

“Serious questions need to be asked about how they managed to obtain such a lucrative contract without any track record to speak of.

“Ministers have to undertake complete transparency and launch all particulars of how these contracts have been awarded.

“There is more than a sniff of contracts being awarded on the basis of who you know, which can only be answered by the government coming clean on the process they followed.”

‘Due diligence’

Questions have additionally been raised about giant contracts awarded to different small companies with restricted expertise of supplying PPE.

Campaigners are searching for a judicial evaluation into the award of a £32m contract to PestFix Ltd, a pest management firm in Sussex.

In an announcement, the Department for Health and Social Care stated: “We have been working around the clock to deliver PPE to protect people on the frontline during this global pandemic.

“Almost 28 billion objects of PPE have been ordered from UK-based producers and worldwide companions to supply a steady provide over the approaching months.

“We have a robust process to ensure orders are of high-quality standard and meet commercial due diligence.”