To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 13 July 2021 to Question 25834 on Coronavirus: Protective Clothing, how many contracts for the supply of personal protective equipment pre-dated the formalised eight stage assurance process; and what was the total cost of those contracts to the public purse.
This answer is the replacement for a previous holding answer.
17 August 2021
The National Audit Office (NAO) published a report on Government procurement activity in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in November last year. The report is available at the following link:
The report noted (Paragraph 3.19) that by 28 April 2020, personal protective equipment contracts had been awarded to 71 suppliers, with a total value of £1.5 billion, i.e. before offers were being processed through what the NAO have described as the eight stage process. Bunzl Healthcare were one of these suppliers.
The ‘eight stage process’ is a term to describe at a point in time a structured process of checks and due diligence on suppliers which evolved in March and April 2020. It includes the introduction of a central clearance board at the beginning of May 2020 to perform checks previously performed by the Department’s Accounting Officer to add an extra level of assurance that the deal met the Department’s requirements. However, from the start all suppliers were evaluated by officials on financial standing, technical compliance and ability to perform the contract.