Government to burn unusable items of PPE stored in Suffolk

A member of staff wearing PPE walks through a ward for Covid patients at King's College Hospital, in

A member of staff wearing PPE walks through a ward for Covid patients at King's College Hospital, in south east London - Credit: PA

The government plans to burn £4billion of unusable PPE to generate power, much of which was stored in Suffolk.

The plan has been criticised by MPs as potentially costly, both financially and to the environment.

It is believed much of the protective clothing was stored in Suffolk, with containers seen in Melton, near Woodbridge, and at the former Mendlesham Airfield, just off the A140.

The Public Account Committee (PAC), which oversees spending in Whitehall, said the Department of Social Care (DHSC) lost £4bn worth of PPE which could not be used because it did not meet NHS standards.

In their report, the cross-party committee said: "The department has no clear disposal strategy for this excess PPE, but told us that it plans to burn significant volumes and will aim to generate power from this."

In total, the CAP said the DHSC lost 75% of the £12 billion it spent on PPE in the first year of the coronavirus pandemic to inflated prices and faulty kit.

Containers have started arriving at sites around the area including the former Mendlesham airfield. Picture: ARCHANT

PPE containers at the former Mendlesham Airfield in 2020 - Credit: Archant

However, the DHSC said not all of the unusable PPE will be burned, with much of it being used in other settings or recycled.

A spokesperson for the Department said: "A number of these claims are misleading. 

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"In the face of an unpredictable and dangerous virus, we make no apology for procuring too much PPE rather than too little. 

"Only 3% of the PPE we procured was unusable in any context."

The PAC has urged the DHSC to clarify its plan to dispose of unusable and excess PPE, including predicted costs to the Treasury and to the environment.

PAC chairwoman and Labour MP, Dame Meg Hiller, said the DHSC has done little to "put its house in order" after wasting "huge amounts" of public money.

Three hospital workers in blue PPE

In total, the CAP said the DHSC lost 75% of the £12 billion it spent on PPE in the first year of the coronavirus pandemic to inflated prices and faulty kit - Credit: PA

MPs from opposition parties have also voiced their concerns.

Deputy Labour leader, Angela Rayner, described the plan as "shameful and toxic" on Twitter. 

"The Conservatives are carelessly burning taxpayers' money by the billion", she said.

Daisy Cooper, the Liberal Democrats' health spokesperson, argued: "Hard-working families who are struggling to make ends meet will be outraged that the Conservatives have squandered their money for no other reasons than their sheer incompetence."