The Isle of Man’s Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) spent £7,871,705 (excluding VAT) on personal protective equipment (PPE) during 2020, according to a Freedom of Information Act response analysed by the Manx TaxPayers’ Alliance. The PPE includes equipment purchased in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and also “PPE purchased for business as usual purposes”.
A new analysis by the Manx TaxPayers’ Alliance has found that over 9.5 million items of PPE were purchased, with just 3.5 million used and leaving almost 6 million items unused at the end of the 2020 calendar year. This means that just 37% of the PPE equipment purchased has been used, and 63% has been unused.
“It is excellent that the Isle of Man Government obtained more than enough PPE for the COVID-19 pandemic. The downside risk of having insufficient PPE is big, and it is good that we now have a significant stockpile,” said Michael Josem of the Manx TaxPayers’ Alliance.
“At the same time, taxpayer money should not be treated as a blank cheque, and with the benefit of hindsight, different decisions might have been made. More than 95% of the purchased gowns were not used, 88% of the purchased visors were not used, and more than 81% of the purchased masks were not used in 2020. This does raise questions about the Department’s procurement forecasting, but it is better to be safe than sorry in the context of a global pandemic,” said Michael Josem of the Manx TaxPayers’ Alliance.
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As part of the Freedom of Information response, the DHSC said that some of these items were purchased prior to the start of 2020, and consequently, their cost was not included in the £7.9 million purchase price given above.
The DHSC also said, “All the PPE was scrutinised for the correct CE marks (conforms to health, safety and environmental standards for products sold within the European Economic Area) relevant standards and certification prior to purchase. Where possible, samples were requested and tested prior to purchase.”
One delivery of PPE did not meet the appropriate standards, with the equipment returned and no invoice was submitted for the items.
Additional PPE may have been purchased by other Government departments, boards and offices in addition to that purchased by the Department of Health and Social Care.