'Clearly there was a PPE shortage, Hancock should apologise,' Labour MP says

23 February 2021, 13:59 | Updated: 23 February 2021, 14:05

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Speaking to LBC's Shelagh Fogarty Labour's Shadow health minister Justin Madders has called on Health Secretary Matt Hancock to apologise over a shortage of PPE.

Mr Madders said it was "unbelievable" that Matt Hancock was denying a shortage of Personal Protective Equipment when this time last year health and social care staff were dealing with a shortage of PPE amid a growing number of coronavirus cases.

Branding it "worrying," the Labour MP said it seemed like the Health Secretary was attempting to "re-write history."

Calling for Matt Hancock to apologise, Mr Madders said it was "clearly the case there was a shortage of PPE."

He told Shelagh "people have died because they didn't get access to PPE."

Earlier in the Commons Labour called on Matt Hancock to apologise over awarding health contracts to companies during the pandemic which provided "duff" personal protective equipment (PPE).

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth urged ministers to "commit to recovering every penny piece of taxpayers' money" from companies that provided inadequate face masks and gowns.

But the Health Secretary said his team's decisions ensured there was "no national level shortage" of protective equipment, and that they did "the right thing".

Speaking during health questions, Mr Ashworth told the Commons: "So everybody knows, apart from (Mr Hancock) it seems from this morning's media, that there were PPE shortages.

"The National Audit Office reported on it, we saw nurses resorting to bin bags and curtains for makeshift PPE - hundreds of NHS staff died.

"And his response was to pay a pest control firm £59 million for 25 million masks that couldn't be used, to pay a hedge fund based in Mauritius £252 million again for face masks that were inadequate, and to pay a jeweller in Florida £70 million for gowns that couldn't be used.

"So will he take this opportunity to apologise, and will he commit to recovering every penny piece of taxpayers' money from those companies who provided us with duff PPE?"

Mr Hancock replied: "Of course where a contract isn't delivered against we do not intend to pay taxpayers' money, but of course, also, we wanted to make sure that we got as much PPE as we could into the country.

"And whilst of course there were individual instances that we all know about and that highlight how important it was to buy PPE, there was, as the National Audit Office has confirmed, no national level shortage and that was because of the incredible work of my team and the amount of effort they put into securing the PPE and doing the right thing."