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COVID-19: Government procurement and supply of personal protective equipment


In responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, public sector bodies have had to procure goods and services with extreme urgency.

Under emergency laws brought in at the start of the pandemic crisis, the Cabinet Office - which oversees government’s buying policies - has changed some of the procurement rules for contracts relating to the government’s response to COVID-19. Concerns have been raised about some of these procurements, including around a lack of transparency.

The NAO has now published two major reports, one on the way government has handled procurement during the COVID-19 pandemic, and one specifically on its procurement and contracts for personal protective equipment (PPE), including:

- How PPE was supplied to NHS and social care organisations before the COVID-19 pandemic started

 - What government did, between the pandemic emerging in other countries and arriving in the UK, to prepare for the provision of PPE in the NHS and social care organisations 

 - How government responded when problems arose in the supply of PPE 

 - The scale of problems in the availability of PPE throughout the emergency

This inquiry will take evidence on both reports, examining the scale of Government’s COVID-19-related contracting, how procurement rules have changed and how the government is managing the risks associated with these changes.

For a chosen sample of these contracts it will look specifically at who bought what, from whom, and at what cost, during the pandemic - and whether this is delivering value for taxpayers money in the crisis.

In mid-December the Committee will hold two evidence hearings on the findings across both these reports. In the first hearing, the Committee will question representatives of frontline medical and care associations.  In the second hearing, the Committee will question senior officials at the Cabinet Office and Department for Health and Social Care.

If you have evidence on the issues raised in this inquiry please submit it here before 6.00pm on Monday 7 December.