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This blog post was published under the 2015-2024 Conservative Administration

DHSC response to misleading Guardian and ITV News coverage on pandemic stockpile

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Guardian and ITV News have  reported false, inaccurate and misleading claims about the management of the pandemic influenza stockpile and its subsequent deployment.

We have been clear that the pandemic influenza stockpile has always been readily deployable. It has been able to supply products for the COVID-19 response as soon as they were needed.

There has been no damage to any of the stockpile and it has been safely and securely stored at all times.

The global demand experienced for PPE has been unprecedented but we have delivered 1.2 billion items to the frontline since the outbreak began.

Our supply chain for PPE was designed to accommodate delivery to 226 NHS trusts. We are now providing essential PPE supplies to 58,000 different providers, including care homes, GP surgeries, hospices and community care organisations.

The Department of Health and Social Care's full response to the main claims reported by the Guardian and ITV News can be found below:

Claim - Movianto was beset by “chaos” at its warehouse that may have resulted in delays in deploying vital supplies to healthcare workers. Movianto was not ready to get the deliveries out to hospitals as demand for PPE rose.

It is simply not true to suggest the stockpile has not always been readily deployable.

The pandemic influenza stockpile has been able to supply products for the COVID-19 response as soon as they were needed.

Claim - After the company was ordered to begin distributing PPE and amid complaints of dire shortages in hospitals, the British army had to be scrambled to Movianto’s warehouse to help organise and deploy the PPE.

We have delivered more than 1.2 billion items of PPE since this outbreak began, during which the global demand experienced for PPE has been unprecedented.

The Armed Forces have been utilised in a wide-range of settings during the pandemic, such as in delivering testing. This has supported the national effort in tackling this pandemic and across the world governments have requested military assistance to tackle this global outbreak.

Claim - Movianto temporarily stored the emergency pandemic equipment in a smoke-damaged warehouse that was found to contain asbestos.

It is entirely false to suggest the pandemic influenza stock has not been safely and securely stored at all times.

There has been absolutely no damage to the contents of the stockpile and Movianto has continually fulfilled its contractual obligations.

Movianto has been clear that there was no smoke ingress into the building.

It has also been clear that after learning of asbestos dust, it immediately commissioned air sampling surveys that showed all results were below the limit of quantification in the unit where the stockpile was held.

Claim - There are also questions about how the stockpile was stored in the temporary warehouse. Photos and footage of inside the building show large numbers of pallets containing PPE supplies stored in the aisles between racking, potentially slowing down access and delivery.

The pandemic influenza stock has been safely and securely stored at all times.

Movianto has been clear that only a small quantity of stock was stored in this way and that it was as part of the normal inventory checking process - some stock would be in the aisles as it is temporarily moved down from the racking to allow visual inspection

Claim - The decision in 2018 to award Movianto the government contract is understood to have been signed off at a senior level in Whitehall, despite the company facing significant financial difficulties at the time.

The due diligence of the contract award, implementation and subsequent operations of the pandemic influenza preparedness plan (PIPP) contract have occurred in line with public procurement regulations and Logistics Industry normal operating practises.

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