It had been claimed that PPE companies in England were told to prioritise England over Scotland. The First Minister of Scotland and the Scottish Health Secretary have however “accepted assurances” that this is not the case.

Scottish Secretary for Health and Sport Jeane Freeman also tweeted that she has been assured that “neither NHS England nor PHE asked suppliers to divert PPE orders from Scotland”.

The First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon said on Good Morning Britain:

“There was a concern raised by the care home sector in Scotland that some of their usual suppliers of PPE were telling them that they couldn’t supply normally right now because they had been told that they had to prioritise the NHS in England. That was obviously a concern for us. Now we have had assurances from the UK government that that is not an instruction that has been given from the NHS in England or Public Health England. I am willing to accept that assurance.”

The Scottish Government’s Clinical Director Professor Jason Leitch also earlier rejected claims that protective equipment used to fight Coronavirus is being diverted from one part of the UK to another. Professor Jason Leitch is responsible for quality in the health and social care system, including patient safety and person-centred care, NHS planning, and implementing quality improvement methods across the government and the broader public sector.

Speaking on the Good Morning Scotland programme, he said:

“We have looked into it and we think it’s rubbish. So the companies, and our colleagues at NHS England yesterday when we spoke to them, said it wasn’t true. There’s another element of this though, that the English route for PPE is one of three routes that Scotland has access to PPE from. So we are in a four-country fight against this virus. Honestly, people might not believe me, but that four-countries’ fight is pretty aligned.”

The UK Government has also denied the claim that it has instructed companies to prioritise England and has also insisted that it is working to evenly distribute the supply of PPE around the UK. Chancellor Rishi Sunak said at the UK Government Daily Coronavirus Briefing today that there is “no truth in those stories”.

Where did this claim come from?

Donald Macaskill, chief executive of industry body Scottish Care, speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, said:

“We are facing an additional problem and that is that the care home sector and the care sector had traditionally ordered PPE from various sources. The four largest companies in the UK last week said they were not sending to Scotland and their priority was going to be England NHS and then English social care providers so within two or three days we’ve had a massive dry-up of procurement into Scotland and that’s had an impact, a really serious impact on our care homes and home care.”

The National newspaper spoke to Dr Donald Macaskill, the chief executive of care home sector body Scottish Care (the body representing private care homes in Scotland) after he had raised concerns that PPE firms were supplying equipment to hospitals and care homes in England over ones in Scotland and Wales.

Asked where the guidance to give priority to care homes and agencies in England had actually come from, Dr Donald Macaskill referred to a message on a website which said the direction had come from Public Health England. Public Health England is an executive agency sponsored by the UK Government’s Department of Health and Social Care.

“I suspect it came from Public Health England as the post on the Gompels website said.”

Gompels, which is based in Wiltshire, had said that it will not supply Scotland or Wales under a contract that it holds with Public Health England.

“You must be registered and operating within England — apologies to Wales and Scotland, we are told you have different processes for getting emergency supplies,” its website states.

A spokesperson for the UK Department of Health and Social Care said:

“PPE supplies are being coordinated at a UK-wide level and allocation made based on clinical need across the whole country, which ensures a planned and coordinated response to this global pandemic. Supply routes have been set up within each nation to provide PPE to frontline services.”

Further explaining the situation, Mr Leitch also said he would be speaking to Donald to clarify this.

“What we struggled a little bit with distribution over the last few weeks is distribution to the lesser well-known care home sector who haven’t needed PPE in the past until they’ve had this virus. Now that is being sorted very, very quickly. I’m much more confident than I was even a week ago, that that is now working. We’re speaking to Donald later in the week again.”

In Scotland, PPE comes from UK-wide procurement, orders from overseas and PPE made in Scotland itself.

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Ethan
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Ethan

So people are complaining a company in England, with a contract to supply England with PPE will supply England first? Is this not conflicting with their desire to become an independent nation, where British assets will no longer be valid in Scotland?

Pacman27
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Pacman27

If ever there was real justification to get rid of these regional assemblies it is this. It just cannot be efficient to have 4 different health bodies in the same country (and the UK is a single country). I understand that some people want independence but it goes to show how we are stronger by sticking together. I do not believe that there is a single area in the UK being singled out to received less based upon anything other than clinical need. Really, if this “national” is a news organisation then it should be sanctioned, as these statements are… Read more »

DaveyB
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DaveyB

I whole heartily agree.

Harold
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Harold

It’s ‘wholeheartedly’. Start campaigning for it and soo how far you get!

Harold
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Harold

The UK is made of of several nations, some of which have their own legal systems. If you really do want to cause the Union to finally break up, then campaign for your proposed scrapping of the National Parliaments of some of the Nations. The USA, Germany, Australia, Canada and a good many others have Parliaments and Federal assemblies with far more power that those of the ‘UK’. In fact, to survive, the rest of England needs breaking into regions with Parliaments.

Mark B
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Mark B

I agree that those functions which can be done locally in all situations should be done locally. The clue at the moment is where the public are looking for Government action? For Scotland healthcare is devolved however in a crisis like this most people I think realise that this needs action from Westminster because the UK has the financial muscle to make things happen in a coordinated way. People are not stupid. I foresee a revolution in healthcare not just in the UK but in many other Countries. We need to break the back of many diseases Cancer, Alzheimers, Viruses,… Read more »

Jonathan
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Jonathan

I have less problem with the nhs having 4 National level bodies than I do the madness that is the internal market in which the NHS landscape in a single county will be made up of many different providers, each with its own boardS and corporate goals that don’t align, that’s even before you add in social care to the mix.

Mr Bell
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Mr Bell

Can the uk government take the National newspaper to court for slander and passing on lies. Really poor quality journalism. We are all in this together.

Harold
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Harold

Why don’t you do it?

Barry Larking
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Barry Larking

If by that you mean Mr Bell’s suggestion is not realistic, say so. If you think the suggestion is a good one why not offer encouragement? Petulance is not constructive – ever.

Barry Larking
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Barry Larking

I doubt it. Taking such action as a government looks bad and certainly breathes oxygen into blather. The fact is a small number of people live and breathe this sort of muck. The only answer in this situation is performance delivery and sharing as much information as one can. Focus!

Mark B
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Mark B

The UK Government is too busy for nonsense like this. It is being open and transparent. It would also be a distraction. The Nationalists have shot themselves in the foot with this – they just don’t know it yet.

Barry Larking
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Barry Larking

The truth is not what this is all about. It is part of a series that, heroically, you George have reproduced here. Nitwits believe this stuff because it answers a need. I grew up ina small town like many of us and I know the ‘small town mind’ by heart. Nothing shifts them. Hope all is well and go safe.

Jonathan
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Jonathan

To be honest, what actually is the problem with PPE being moved to the area of most need. At present the hotspots are London and some of the northern English cities, they have the greatest number of cases in ITU and need the greatest amount of some types of PPE such as ffP3 masks and gowns. One could just hear the screams if the UK outbreak had its biggest hotspot in Glasgow and NHSEngland did not support with PPE. It’s not Scottish, Welsh or English PPE it’s our United Kingdom’s and it does to protect the clinical staff who most… Read more »

Qbit
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Qbit

This disinformation will remind some of RT (Russia Today) style reporting. On Public Health agencies diseases do not stop at borders and one wonders if there is evidence of increased efficiency and effectiveness in having four UK public health agencies or whether the arrangement is primarily political? Given that 85% of the UK’s population resides in England, together with concomitant economic activity, majority of UK scientific and technical expertise and the tax payers who give disproportionately higher Barnett funding to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland there’s are good argument that the devolved administrations are not just reliant on the UK… Read more »