Whole of Government Response to COVID-19 report

The Public Accounts Committee published yesterday its report on the Whole of Government Response to COVID-19 and, predictably, it pulls no punches:

"5.There were fundamental flaws in the government’s central procurement and local distribution of vital goods and equipment. We recognise that the government was faced with a massive challenge to procure a huge quantity of personal protective equipment (PPE) for 58,000 separate sites including hospitals and care homes. But despite a pandemic being identified as the government’s top non-malicious risk, it failed to stock up in advance. The Cabinet Office claims that it was taken by surprise by the need for a huge quantity of PPE and emphasises that it did not run out of PPE centrally, although there were local shortages of PPE, particularly of aprons. It matters very little that the government had enough PPE centrally if these vital goods and equipment are not getting to those who need them locally. The Department of Health and Social Care was not focused enough on the challenge of how to identify need in the care sector and ensure supply of PPE."

I submitted some written evidence for the inquiry and it can be found here. Most of my submission was focused on the ventilator procurement saga, but I would guess that most of my comments are valid too for the overall 'cavalier' approach taken to public procurement since March.