Intended for healthcare professionals


Government has wasted £15bn on unused PPE and other pandemic purchases

BMJ 2023; 380 doi: (Published 27 January 2023) Cite this as: BMJ 2023;380:p213
  1. Ingrid Torjesen
  1. The BMJ

Over the past two years the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has spent £14.9bn on unused personal protective equipment (PPE) and other covid-19 pandemic items such as vaccines and drugs. The cost of ongoing storage and disposal of excess purchases and unusable PPE is likely to hit £319m, show the department’s annual accounts.

The National Audit Office (NAO) said it was unable to sign off the accounts of the UK Health Security Agency—the body responsible for managing pandemic stock—as part of its audit of the DHSC 2021-2022 group accounts, citing a lack of “sufficient, appropriate audit evidence” and “significant shortcomings in financial control.”1

The department reported an £8.9bn impairment in its 2020-21 accounts in respect of the PPE and other inventory, and its 2021-22 accounts estimate that there has been a further £6bn reduction in the value of items procured in response to the pandemic.

The £6bn deficit includes £2.5bn for items that cost …

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