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Treasury approved over £15 billion for Covid-19 PPE procurement

Treasury approved over £15 billion for Covid-19 PPE procurement
By Eleanor Philpotts, Sofia Lind
9 July 2020

The Government has unveiled the vast sums the Treasury approved for spending on the Covid-19 emergency.

This included £15 billion for PPE, £10 billion for the Test, Trace, Contain and Enable programme and a £5.5 billion sum that helped pay for extra GP practice and pharmacy bank holiday opening during the peak of the outbreak in April and May.

This formed part of a £48.5 billion additional spend on public services in response to the crisis, of which £31.9 billion was for health services, the Government said.

The document, unveiled as part of yesterday’s summer spending announcement, said: ‘At the Budget on 11 March, the Chancellor pledged to provide the NHS and other public services with the support they need to respond to Covid-19.

‘Delivering on this pledge, HM Treasury has so far approved £48.5 billion of additional expenditure on public services for the immediate response to Covid-19.’

But despite the billions spent, GPs and other healthcare providers have suffered severe problems with securing sufficient PPE during the pandemic.

The Public Accounts Committee has given the Department of Health and Social Care two months to present a plan for how it will ensure PPE provision in the case of a second Covid-19 spike.

And, commenting on the Chancellor’s statement, the BMA criticised the lack of pledges for more funds for health services going forward.

BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘Given this statement was made amid the worst global health crisis in living memory and the Government’s previous promise to give the NHS “whatever it needs”, the absence of any new commitment to significant health investment in the speech today is quite frankly astonishing.’

According to Dr Nagpaul, the country ‘cannot afford’ for the ‘cash injection’ the NHS was given to help cope with the pandemic ‘to be a one-off sticking plaster’.

He said: ‘Doctors and their colleagues have spent the last four months giving their all, often putting their own health at risk, battling this virus on the frontline. Even before this crisis, a decade of underinvestment had resulted in record waits for care, a severely depleted medical workforce and services barely able to cope.

‘If the NHS is to not only meet the needs of patients who have had care suspended during the pandemic but also to be ready for a possible second wave, the Government must bring forward significant further investment as a matter of urgency.’

Covid-19 NHS spend

The Government’s document said:

HM Treasury has approved £31.9 billion of support for health services, including:

• Over £15 billion for PPE procurement to protect frontline staff

• £10 billion for the government’s Test, Trace, Contain and Enable programme to support the unlocking of the economy • over £1 billion to procure additional ventilators to support the NHS

• and a further £5.5 billion of spending on health services, including the use of Independent Sector Health facilities; enhancing the NHS discharge process so patients who were medically fit to do so can leave hospital quickly and safely; delivering medicines to those who are vulnerable and shielding; keeping our pharmacies and GP practices open during bank holidays so healthcare facilities can stay available to those that need them; and funding for domestic vaccines R&D and manufacturing.

Source: Treasury ‘Plan for Jobs’ July 2020

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