Catholic MP Meg Hillier has urged the Government to acknowledge its personal protective equipment (PPE) failures, as she called for better preparation in the future.
Her comments came as the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said care home staff were left without adequate PPE during the first months of the Covid-19 pandemic as the Government chose to prioritise the NHS over the social care sector.
It also criticised the lack of transparency around the procurement process, particularly pointing out how orders had been placed with companies based on recommendations from politicians rather than experts.
“Government had permission to procure equipment at pace and without tendering, but acting fast did not give it license to rip up recordkeeping on decisions,” said Ms Hillier, Labour Co-operative MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch and PAC chair.
“Frontline workers were left without adequate supplies, risking their own and their families’ lives. The Government needs to acknowledge the errors and be better prepared.”
The committee said care homes only received a fraction of the PPE needed compared with the health service and were only taken seriously after high mortality rates became apparent. It said frontline staff in both health and social care experienced shortages of PPE, with some forced to reuse single-use items as stocks ran ‘perilously low’.
Picture: A care worker wears personal protective equipment (PPE) as she changes the dressings on the legs of an elderly woman.