The Great British COVID-19 procurement scandal continues after a newly published contract revealed yet another business with little experience or expertise being awarded a multi-million-pound contract to supply personal protective equipment (PPE) to the NHS.
The design company – Luxe Lifestyle Ltd – was awarded a £25 million contract in April to supply garments for biological or chemical protection to the NHS.
Stephen Delahunty reports.
According to Companies House, the business appears to have no employees, no assets and no turnover. Additional research – using business information provider Endole – revealed no evidence at all of the company’s trading.
It is unclear how the business with no experience in the sector is able to meet the contractual requirements to provide gowns and FFP2/KN95 to the NSH during the pandemic.
However, this is not the first example of a business with seemingly little experience or expertise being awarded a major contract by the Government to supply PPE. There has been various supports that procurement is currently taking place with no due diligence and poor management.
Instead of contacting existing suppliers during the pandemic, Public Health England panicked – evoking emergency procurement procedures such as regulation 32(2)(c) under the Public Contract Regulations 2015. This allowed for the sourcing of goods without the formal tender process.
As the pandemic unfolded, and the use of highly specialised PPE increased exponentially, instead of contacting existing suppliers and then widening the reach to more than 150 established PPE suppliers in the UK, PHE panicked. It evoked emergency procurement procedures – regulation 32(2)(c) under the Public Contract Regulations 2015 – which allowed for the sourcing of goods without the formal tender process.
A spokesperson for the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) has previously defended the Government’s procurement methods describing them as “completely in line with procurement regulations for exceptional circumstances, where being able to procure at speed has been critical in the national response to COVID-19”.
The DHSC confirmed the contract with Luxe Lifestyle Ltd was still active but refused to reveal how many individual units have been delivered so far.
[Image Source: PA Images]