PPE contracts awarded fairly

12 October 2021
The 2020/21 audit of NHS National Services Scotland report cover

The Scottish public body that procured PPE during the pandemic acted fairly and appropriately when awarding contracts.

NHS National Services Scotland (NSS) used emergency procurement provisions to award PPE contracts without competition during the first wave of Covid-19. There was some variation in the contracts, but auditors were satisfied with the procurement arrangements.

No evidence of preferential treatment or bias was found in the awarding of contracts. But award notices were not published within the required timescales for most of the PPE contacts, reducing the transparency of decision making.

NHS NSS worked well with national enterprise agencies and other partners to increase the amount of PPE produced in Scotland, making the supply chain more resilient. It set up and runs the Test and Protect programme. It also built and decommissioned the NHS Louisa Jordan field hospital at a cost of £51.2 million, and it continues to work well to support the vaccination programme.

Stephen Boyle, Auditor General for Scotland, said:

NHS NSS has been integral to Scotland's response to the pandemic, and it had to procure PPE in very difficult circumstances.

Staff were working under extreme pressure and did not have time to follow standard procurement processes. But they did a good job of managing the risks of awarding contracts under emergency arrangements to ensure PPE was secured for front-line staff.