UK plans to burn billions in wasted pandemic protective gear

LONDON — The British authorities plans to burn billions of kilos ({dollars}) in unusable personal protective gear bought in haste through the coronavirus pandemic, a public spending watchdog mentioned Friday.

The thought of burning the face masks, robes and different gear to generate energy has not impressed the watchdog committee. The panel is investigating how the federal government got here to spend 4 billion kilos ($5 billion) on protective gear that has to be dumped as a result of it’s faulty or doesn’t meet U.Okay. requirements.

Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee mentioned the federal government deliberate to get rid of 15,000 pallets a month of the gear “via a combination of recycling and burning to generate power.”

“The costs and environmental impact of disposing of the excess and unusable PPE is unclear,” the committee famous.

Pat Cullen, chief govt of the Royal College of Nursing, knowledgeable physique, accused the federal government of “sending billions of pounds up in smoke.”

The authorities mentioned not all of the 4 billion kilos’ value of apparatus can be burned. The Department of Health mentioned solely about 670 million kilos’ ($835 million) value of the PPE was “unusable in any context.” It mentioned a few of the extra stock can be repurposed to be used by dentists or donated to charities, transport companies and different nations.

In a report, the accounts committee discovered that the Department of Health lost 75% of the 12 billion kilos it spent on PPE in the primary year of the pandemic to inflated costs and defective merchandise.

Opposition Labour Party lawmaker Meg Hillier, who chairs the committee, mentioned the PPE saga was “perhaps the most shameful episode in the U.K. government response to the pandemic.”

“The government splurged huge amounts of money, paying obscenely inflated prices and payments to middlemen in a chaotic rush, during which they chucked out even the most cursory due diligence,” she mentioned.

Government minister Robin Walker acknowledged Friday that “mistakes were made” early in the pandemic. But he mentioned it was “a totally unprecedented situation” in which nations around the globe had been scrambling to purchase provides throughout a well being disaster.

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