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Arco Response to High Court Ruling on Pandemic PPE Procurement

13 January 2022

Arco, the UK's leading safety company, is pleased to see that the High Court has ruled that the "VIP fast-track lane" for awarding PPE contracts to those with political connections was unlawful.

Throughout the early stages of the pandemic, there were examples of PPE supply contracts being awarded opaquely to organisations with no history or experience of PPE manufacture and supply, who were ultimately unable to fulfil orders as they had imported inappropriate or non-compliant products, increasing the risk to the public, care home staff and NHS workers.

Arco recognises the fact that, when the pandemic broke out, the Government was dealing with an unprecedented situation and an urgent need to scale up procurement in an extremely fast-moving environment, in which a finite supply of PPE had to be matched with an almost-infinite global demand with millions of lives at stake. In such a situation it was inevitable that mistakes would be made.

We at Arco have always felt that it was important to learn from what went wrong and to take steps to rectify these.

Last year, Arco launched a campaign to raise awareness of these issues and produced a position paper Personal Protective Equipment and the Government's Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

This paper shared Arco's experiences and proposed a 10-point set of recommendations to prevent a repeat of the high-profile issues that were seen during the first wave of the crisis and to ensure the country is better protected in any future pandemic.

Arco's Chairman, Thomas Martin, gave evidence to the Public Accounts Committee on Arco's experience at the start of the pandemic and its findings.

Arco acknowledges the positive and constructive way in which the Department for Health and Social Care has engaged with the content of the position paper, and asks Ministers to consider its remaining recommendations, particularly the call for a register of accredited Category II and III suppliers. This will ensure we can all be better prepared for any future emergencies.