PPE 'contract betrayal' could lead staff facing redundancy at Warwick business says MP - The Leamington Observer

PPE 'contract betrayal' could lead staff facing redundancy at Warwick business says MP

Leamington Editorial 4th Mar, 2021   0

CALLS have been made for government to reimburse two local companies after PPE ‘contract betrayal’ which could leave nearly 80 staff facing redundancy.

Warwick-based Contechs launched a medical division last November to produce Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

But after spending hundreds of thousands of pounds making PPE, the firm found no domestic avenues for its sale.

Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western says government instead imported cheap equipment from overseas, mainly Turkey and China – leaving UK firms out of pocket.

Mr Western raised the plight of the automotive company in Parliament and said Contechs has warned it may need to make nearly 80 staff redundant when government financial support ends after suffering significant losses.

Contechs managing director Peter Jarvis said: “We answered the call to arms with all good intentions.

“Now we just want to see a coherent long-term strategy which involves the companies that responded. At the moment it is total uncertainty for many.

“We should be allowed to continue in a sustainable fashion and not be left in a situation with indebtedness and unrecovered capital expenditure.”

Leamington firm Tecman Advanced Healthcare Products also set up a manufacturing hub for PPE in May amid national stock shortages.

Bosses said they were ‘disappointed’ after being overlooked for an NHS PPE contract – but have since expanded and successfully marketed abroad.

Tecman has the promise of an NHS contract for its sustainable PPE still in the pipeline – though it appealed for Mr Western’s support to secure the deal.

Tecman managing director Kevin Porter added: “The government has gone to immense effort to try and procure enough PPE for the NHS during an unprecedented pandemic.

“However, as the immediate crisis abates, we would like to see future procurement decisions weighted towards UK manufacturers and products that provide ecological benefits, in addition to being equitable, fair and competitive on price.”

Mr Western called for the two firms in his constituency to be prioritised for any future NHS contracts.

He said: “The government’s appeal came after a decade of cuts to public services in which PPE stocks were decimated.

“In the midst of the crisis, the Department for Health signed off contracts with Conservative Party donors, companies with no prior experience and chums of the Secretary of State – with the equipment purchased sometimes unusable.

“Contechs has taken a big hit to its revenues as a result of this betrayal.”

The Department of Health says its public call to action received an ‘extraordinary’ response from businesses offering support and it prioritised those which could provide large volumes of PPE at a fast pace.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “We have been working tirelessly to deliver PPE, with more than 8.8billion items delivered to the frontline so far and almost 32billion items ordered to provide a continuous supply, which will meet the future needs of health and social care staff.

“The government has prioritised the diversification of UK supply chains of PPE – not just looking to new suppliers abroad, but also significantly ramping up our UK manufacture.

“We are proud UK manufacturers are now able to supply 70 per cent of the PPE required, thanks to the extraordinary response to our call to action to supply PPE to the frontline.”

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