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Arco comments on VIP fast-track ruling

17 January 2022

ARCO IS pleased to see that the High Court has ruled that the VIP fast-track lane for awarding PPE contracts to those with political connections was unlawful.

In a statement, Arco comments, "We have seen examples of PPE supply contracts being awarded opaquely to organisations with no history or experience of PPE manufacture and supply, who were ultimately unable to fulfil orders as they had imported inappropriate or non-compliant products, increasing the risk to the public, care home staff and NHS workers.

"We recognise the fact that when the pandemic broke out, the Government was dealing with an unprecedented situation and an urgent need to scale up procurement in an extremely fast-moving environment, in which a finite supply of PPE had to be matched with an almost-infinite global demand with millions of lives at stake. In such a situation it was inevitable that mistakes would be made.

"We at Arco have always felt that it was important to learn from what went wrong and to take steps to rectify these. Last year we launched a campaign to raise awareness of these issues and in our position paper Personal Protective Equipment and the Government’s Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic we shared our experiences and proposed a 10-point set of recommendations to prevent a repeat of the high-profile issues that were seen during the first wave of the crisis and to ensure the country is better protected in any future pandemic. Our Chairman, Thomas Martin, gave evidence to the Public Accounts Committee on Arco’s experience at the start of the pandemic and its findings.

"We acknowledge the positive and constructive way in which the Department for Health and Social Care has engaged with the content of our report, and ask Ministers to consider its remaining recommendations, particularly our call for a register of accredited Category II and III suppliers. This will ensure we can all be better prepared for any future emergencies."