Firms set up by 'Tory cronies' are destroying British companies, says surgeon

23 April 2021, 14:49

By Fiona Jones

This surgeon told James O'Brien that the PPE companies he has used in theatre for years will "go out of business" due to firms set up by "Tory cronies" days after the pandemic hit the UK.

The topic of 'Conservative sleaze' was introduced by James O'Brien in his reflection of the David Cameron Greensill scandal, Boris Johnson's controversial texts with Sir James Dyson promising to 'fix' his taxes, and an NHS Wales contract being awarded to a company Matt Hancock and his family have shares in.

Caller Ahmed, an oral surgeon, told James O'Brien he is "really struggling" to get supplies of PPE from his normal distributors, with it now taking six to eight weeks.

He said, "We've been using these companies for years, and it got to the stage where I was telling the receptionist to find other suppliers."

However newer companies are not struggling in the same way: "We find out a number of these companies who seem to be established in 2020 and suddenly you ask them that you'd like a box of 100 and they respond that we're doing a special deal, would you like 400 or 800 pairs?"

Read more: Labour demands inquiry into cronyism row

He told James he's looked into the background of these companies and you find "these are the ones that have been talked about and they've suddenly got contracts."

James said, "Some of these companies were getting Government contracts in days of being set up."

Ahmed said, "This creates a huge problem for us now because we've been using other companies for years, they're established PPE suppliers, and their business is now being damaged. We can't have patients coming in and say to them oh sorry we've got no sterile gloves, I can't take your wisdom tooth out.

"You're then forced to use these other companies which are from the Tory's cronies...you know they've got their contracts suddenly."

He told James that the PPE from these companies is subpar and has not even been sterilised correctly - but established firms "can't get anything because everything's being diverted to these brand new companies."

James circled back to his point on cronyism, "The Government clearly chose, for reasons that I can't work out yet, to go for companies with no experience whatsoever of doing this, but with connections to the Government. You can call it cronyism, you can call it corruption...why would they not get in touch with people with a track record of making ventilators and instead often sweeteners with no track record at all?"

Ahmed agreed, "A lot of these companies that have no voice...they're just going to go out of business."

Read more: 'Holy Trinity' of ventilator callers leave James O'Brien 'appalled at government cronyism'