September 30, 2022

Britain pays China £23m a year to store personal protective equipment used by healthcare workers in units and warehouses

  • The government has 2.4 billion personal protective equipment in China
  • The government paid China £12m to stock up on personal protective equipment in the first year of the pandemic
  • This shot up to £23m in 2021-22, Health Minister Maria Caulfield revealed

Tons of personal protective equipment (PPE) for UK health workers are being stockpiled by China at a cost of £23 million a year, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

And the taxpayer bill has nearly doubled in a year, prompting Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former leader of the Tory party, to label it ‘incredible’.

In the first year of the pandemic, the government paid China £12 million to stockpile personal protective equipment, rising to £23 million in 2021-22, Health Minister Maria Caulfield revealed in a reply to Labor’s Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting.

The taxpayer’s bill has nearly doubled in a year, prompting Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former leader of the Tory party, to label it ‘incredible’ [File photo]

Sir Iain said: ‘We are becoming dependent on China, both for PPE production and now for storage. We support them with extra money, so we stupidly build the threat that will one day hurt us.’

He said the next prime minister must ensure that “across the departments, stupidity like this is eradicated.” We don’t have to make ourselves more and more dependent on China’.

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The government has stored 2.4 billion PPE items, believed to be worth more than £1 billion, in units and warehouses in China.

Earlier this month, Ms Caulfield said the current cost of storing personal protective equipment in China is £571,742 a week.

The government has stored 2.4 billion PPE items, believed to be worth more than £1 billion, in units and warehouses in China. NHS staff are pictured above in PPE in April 2020

Mr Streeting told The Mail on Sunday: ‘The Conservative government pays China more each week to stock our personal protective equipment than Man Utd spends on Cristiano Ronaldo’s wages.

“If the Conservatives didn’t burn taxpayers’ money so carelessly, they wouldn’t have to tax working people during a cost-of-living crisis.”

The total cost of PPE storage, including in the UK, was £267 million last year – up from £168 million spent in the first year of the pandemic.

When asked why China stockpiled British personal protective equipment and why those costs have doubled year on year, the Ministry of Health declined to answer.