Inflated PPE prices cost local councils millions
An investigation by the Liverpool Echo newspaper has discovered that Merseyside councils paid inflated prices for PPE (personal protective equipment) at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.
Data analysed by the Liverpool Echo revealed that PPE cost inflation meant that Liverpool City Council paid around £2.5 million extra compared to that of pre-pandemic prices. It cited the example of surgical masks, the price of which rose by 600%, with non-surgical masks that had previously cost 12p each being sold for 80p, and some costing over a pound each.
In their desperation to obtain enough PPE when their usual supply sources ran out, councils turned to marketing companies, fashion wholesalers and suppliers of mobile phones.
Councillor Paul Brant, a public health cabinet member for Liverpool City Council, said:
We worked extremely hard to get consistent supplies which we could use to protect our frontline workers and to support staff working in care homes.”
He said that the reason for paying higher prices was due to both high demand and shipping costs for PPE sourced overseas.
Supplies of PPE were prioritised for the NHS over local councils during the height of the outbreak, which led to many suppliers running out. Companies that had not previously sold PPE sourced it from other countries and sold it at inflated prices.
Suppliers say that their prices did not take advantage of councils, but instead rose as a result of passing on extra costs charged by manufacturers, many of them based in China.