Thank you for contacting me about the Coronavirus response and PPE procurement.
I am grateful for the efforts of so many people working in the public and private sector who took measures at great pace last year to deal with the new challenges presented by the onset of coronavirus. With regards to procuring PPE, being able to do so at speed has been critical to the Government’s response to Covid-19 and, at the outset of the coronavirus outbreak, it was made clear to all public authorities that they may need to procure new services with extreme urgency. For the avoidance of doubt, this is not a change to the public procurement regulations; there are well-established procedures in the Public Contracts Regulations for handling extremely urgent procurements and they have been used by a variety of public authorities including the UK Government, and devolved administrations.
As you may be aware, the Secretary of State for Health has acknowledged that, despite intentions, not all the detail of every PPE contract awarded was published within set time frames as required by law. While this is disappointing, I do appreciate the pressures that the Department for Health and Social Care was under last year. I am pleased to say that work is well underway to tackle the backlog in publication, with the Department for Health moving towards complete compliance again.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.