By We Own It
More than 300 NHS and care workers have now died from coronavirus and many of these deaths were “avoidable with proper PPE”.
Businesses and communities have been ready to help out with vital protective equipment – masks, gowns, visors. But in the last few months, it’s often felt like the government was asleep at the wheel.
The NHS Supply Chain, responsible for procuring and delivering PPE during the coronavirus crisis, has itself been privatised.
Procurement and logistics in our NHS has been outsourced to a chaotic mish-mash of private contractors. There are eleven key outsourced procurement contracts and four levels of profit taking before equipment arrives at the hospital or care home.
The system is supposed to deliver “efficiency savings”. In reality, supplies have been rationed and the country left unprepared. This has severely undermined the national effort to protect NHS, care staff and patients.
The system is horrendously complicated, but here are the top five key companies you need to know about.
DHL, the parcel delivery company, is in charge of finding wholesalers to supply ward based consumables, including PPE kits. In the last year, DHL advertised 64 tenders for NHS supplies, directly controlling at least £4 billion of NHS spending. DHL boasts that it originally helped to privatise “the government purchasing and supply agency and logistics agency”. It has previously confessed to being part of freight cartels.
Unipart is responsible for delivering PPE through its £730 million NHS logistics contract. Unipart’s CEO promised to ‘cure the NHS’ in 2013 but its “just in time” approach goes against the need to stockpile medical goods, such as PPE.
Deloitte has won a series of major NHS contracts – for designing the procurement system in the first place and more recently for managing logistics for PPE and testing centres. “It’s been a nightmare to deal with Deloitte,” one British factory owner said. “They don’t seem to understand how supply chains work…why have they barely spoken to factories across this country who know how to make this kit?”
Movianto won a £55 million contract in 2018 to provide a stockpile of equipment, mostly PPE, in case of a pandemic. According to delivery drivers, Movianto was not ready to get the deliveries out to hospitals, due to “bad management” of the stock and short-staffing at its “chaotic” custom-built warehouse. Much of the stock was out of date.
Clipper Logistics has been contracted to run a separate PPE channel for NHS Trusts, GPs and care homes. Clipper’s chairman Steven Parkin donated £725,000 to the Conservative Party in the last five years. The company is accused of threatening workers with disciplinary action over concerns about coming into work during the pandemic.
We Own It are calling on the government to bring the NHS Supply Chain back into accountable public ownership so we can keep staff and patients safe in the future.
• We Own It is a campaigning organisation that fights for public ownership of public services. Thanks to them for sending us this article. Read their full report Privatised and Unprepared – The NHS Supply Chain here.