The government spent £569m buying 20,900 ventilators to keep people alive during the Covid-19 pandemic but lack of demand means NHS hospitals have used just a few of them. All but 2,150 of the machines it bought are still being held in a Ministry of Defence warehouse in case they are needed in the coming second wave of the disease. That is the conclusion of a National Audit Office (NAO) investigation into the costs of ministers’ scramble to buy tens of thousands of mechanical ventilators in March and what it achieved. Whitehall’s spending watchdog found that the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and Cabinet Office paid a lot more than usual for the devices but were right to do so given the threat to life. “The government acted with urgency to increase the number of ventilators available to the NHS. It prioritised speed over cost and spent a total of £569m. So far, most of these ventilators have not been needed,” says its report, which is published on Wednesday. The DHSC tried to source most of the extra devices it was seeking from China. However, intense global demand meant it had to pay suppliers upfront, but without any… Read full this story
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