NHS: Protective Clothing

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 29th April 2021.

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Photo of Bill Esterson Bill Esterson Shadow Minister (International Trade)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made for the implications of his policies on PPE contract renewal of the potential for modern slavery practices in NHS PPE supply chains.

Photo of Bill Esterson Bill Esterson Shadow Minister (International Trade)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has (a) terminated contracts relating to, or (b) taken steps to assess reports of modern slavery practices in the NHS PPE supply chain.

Photo of Bill Esterson Bill Esterson Shadow Minister (International Trade)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of NHS PPE procurement with relation to modern slavery practices.

Photo of Jo Churchill Jo Churchill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

The Government’s guidance advises public sector contracting authorities on how to assess suppliers in terms of mitigating the risk of modern slavery. Contracts are normally placed in line with Departmental terms and conditions which include clauses requiring Good Industry Practice to ensure that there is no slavery or human trafficking in supply chains. Suppliers appointed to NHS Supply Chain frameworks must comply with the Labour Standards Assurance System or they can be removed from consideration for future opportunities.

The Department takes all allegations of modern slavery very seriously. Throughout the response to the pandemic the Department has engaged with the Home Office and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office regarding modern slavery issues. In the event that allegations of modern slavery are substantiated in relation to a Departmental supplier we will consider all available options. There have been no cases of this to date.

In the September 2020 personal protective equipment (PPE) strategy, the Department advised that by 1 December 2020, the amount of PPE that is United Kingdom-made would be sufficient to meet 70% of the expected demand for PPE over the following three months.

UK-made supply comprised 82% of the expected demand for PPE in England for the period 1 December 2020 to 28 February 2021. This figure does not include gloves, which were explicitly excluded from the September target.

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