A prominent Lib Dem Cornwall Councillor has launched a blistering attack on the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick for misleading the public over the ‘success’ of the new Clipper PPE ordering system.
Clipper was advertised as being a one-stop-shop where all care providers can purchase all of their PPE on an ongoing basis, but the quantities which can be ordered are very small; just enough to cover a brief emergency situation (such as when an order from a regular supplier has been delayed for a couple of days).
Care providers in Cornwall are still being told that they should be making separate arrangements outside of the Clipper system not only to buy enough PPE for their ongoing needs, but also to build up enough stocks of their own to be able to cope with another surge in demand and breakdown of supply as we saw in March and April.
Cornwall Council has been told that it could be another three weeks before the system is genuinely able to do what was promised, but the national rollout has been announced anyway, exactly on schedule.
Councillor Colin Martin, Vice Chair of Cornwall Liberal Democrats said:
"For years, the Conservative Government has cut funding for Public Health, preventing Councils from replenishing ageing stockpiles of PPE. When the Coronavirus hit the UK, the Government totally ignored the needs of care homes, allowing the NHS to swallow up all the available supplies.
"Throughout the peak of the pandemic, the Government repeatedly gave false assurances that needs were being met, despite photos of care workers using bin bags as aprons. The "Clipper" system was meant to be a solution to the Government's inability to deliver what it promised. But once again, rather than admitting that the delivery is incomplete and behind schedule, ministers are putting arbitrary schedules ahead of reality.
"By announcing that everything is going well when it plainly isn't, the Government not only insults the intelligence of the dedicated staff who have struggled to get through the past three months, they also undermine the credibility of other timetabled announcements, such as when it is safe to return to school or work, or to reopen shops."