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NHS must be run in interests of public health and not private profit, campaigners warn after PM admits PPE failures

THE NHS must be run in the interests of public health, not private profit, campaigners demanded today after Boris Johnson admitted that personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages were a “tragedy.”

The Prime Minister said that the nation “couldn’t produce enough gloves, gowns or masks” in a call with Tory members, the Mirror revealed, contradicting previous statements by the government.

In February, Health Secretary Matt Hancock claimed that there had never been a national shortage “because of my team.”

We Own It director Cat Hobbs told the Star: “When the pandemic hit, we were completely unprepared because both oversight and logistics for sourcing supplies such as PPE had been privatised.

“It is beyond scandalous that so much of the coronavirus response was handed over to private companies — companies that failed to deliver, time and time again.

“Whether it is Unipart or Deloitte, Movianto or Clipper Logistics, these companies should be kept well away from our NHS.”

Ms Hobbs said that the crisis revealed how the NHS is made more vulnerable by privatisation.

“So many failings, from the failure to distribute sufficient PPE to the ineffective approach to testing, lie at the door of private companies,” she said.

“However, this government has an obsession with privatisation. With a willingness to build up our public capacity, we could have had — and could still have — publicly run manufacturing capacity to assist in times of great need, when the ‘invisible hand’ of the market really is invisible, which is what we saw for months last year. 

“From now on, we need to ensure that our NHS is run in the interests of public health, not private profit. In doing so, the government needs to reinstate it as a fully publicly owned and publicly run health service.”

Keep Our NHS Public co-chairman Dr John Puntis: "In what was perhaps an unguarded moment, Boris Johnson has confirmed what NHS staff know only too well; that this government was unprepared for the coronavirus pandemic and failed to secure enough Personal Protective Equipment. Far too many NHS and care staff have died as a result of this failure and lack of planning, that is the real tragedy here.

“In addition to this, workers in insecure low paid jobs were twice as likely to die. What Johnson now needs to do is to come clean about the many other mistakes made by his government in managing the pandemic. While Keep Our NHS Public is shining a light on this through the People's Covid Inquiry, an official inquiry must be set up as a matter of urgency."

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