Worried council risked £900,000 on China face masks as coronavirus shortage loomed
- Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Desperately-worried council bosses took a “risk” to spend almost £900,000 on two million face masks from China as coronavirus hit Norfolk - because the national chain to get such equipment broke down.
Bosses at Norfolk County Council admitted they could not be sure the personal protective equipment (PPE) they ordered to be flown into Heathrow Airport would be up to scratch.
But, with fear of a shortage of masks for their staff, community workers, care homes and funeral directors, they took the gamble in March that the masks they were buying would be of a good standard.
They spent £894,000 on two instalments, each of one million type IIR face masks.
Tom McCabe, head of paid service at Norfolk County Council and chairman of Norfolk Resilience Forum - which led the county’s response to the pandemic, told a meeting of the council’s scrutiny committee it had been a risky purchase.
He said: “As we saw the issues coming towards us we took the decision to source internationally.
You may also want to watch:
“There were risks attached to that, but thankfully, the checks and balances we put in place meant the stuff that got flown into Heathrow from China and elsewhere was what it was supposed to be.
“In some instances, people have purchased stuff which is substandard, so that was one where the national shortage of PPE and the breakdown of the national supply chain could have led to more difficulties in Norfolk if we hadn’t got ahead of the game.”
- 1 Family of missing man informed after body found near lake
- 2 Photos show RAF centre being visited by ‘beast’ of an aircraft
- 3 Chef to reopen major hotel that closed amid financial woes
- 4 Couple who drove from Hull to Norfolk for a walk among lockdown breakers
- 5 Emma Thompson and Peaky Blinders actor to star in new film shot in Norwich
- 6 Coronavirus: How busy are our local hospitals?
- 7 Drama as police plane circles villages for missing person
- 8 'Unsatisfactory and dangerous situation' - Man frustrated by unlit roadwork
- 9 Revealed: how many people have had the Covid-19 vaccine where you live
- 10 Burglars cut hole in fence to steal Labrador from kennel
The supplies were bought from Beijing Shijie Trade International Freight Forwarding Company.
Mr McCabe said: “The council received assistance and support in placing the contract from the East of England-China Forum, which is part of Essex County Council.
“The contract was signed to ensure continuity of supply for council staff, care homes, early years providers and others.”
James Bullion, director of adult social care at the county council, previously said the council had struggled to get PPE for care homes at the start of the crisis.