Government urged to give Laois Offaly firms share of €1 billion PPE HSE spend

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

Email:

news@leinsterexpress.ie

Laois

PPE vital for spread of Covid-19 among health service staff

Laois and Offaly firms could play a vital role in the battle against Covid-19 which could also secure business and protect jobs if the Government supports the Irish production of personal protective equipment (PPE) need by health service staff, according to a local TD.

Speaking in the Dáil, Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley said €1 billion is being spent by the HSE on PPE with one Chinese company paid €225 million this year for the equipment.

He told the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath, that there are firms in the midlands and around the country that could do the work.

"There are many small firms, including in my own constituency of Laois-Offaly, that are involved in fabrics and upholstery etc. that could produce masks, gowns and visors, etc.. I am proposing to the Minister that he put in place a scheme through the local enterprise offices to identify companies and to work with local businesses to establish local supply chains and to begin developing the capacity to produce PPE in this country," he said.

Deputy Stanley said more money spent on PPE should be kept in Ireland.

“The HSE is forecasting that it will spend more than €1 billion this year on PPE. From Sinn Féin's point of view it is essential that we retain as much of that money as possible in the Irish economy. This means purchasing as much PPE as possible from businesses in Ireland and developing domestic capacity over time. This will help to relieve pressure on the Exchequer, it will stimulate job creation and allow us to recirculate a significant amount of money within the Irish economy.

"Prior to Covid-19, the HSE typically spent €20 million per annum on PPE with little or no indigenous production. It, therefore, makes perfect sense for  us to begin to develop our own capacity of PPE supply chains not just for Covid-19 but for post-Covid-19 when the health sector will require a larger supply.

"From the information released by the HSE we can see that only a fraction of the HSE spend is being retained in Ireland. One particular Chinese company, China Resources Pharmaceutical Group, has been paid more than €225 million this year for PPE. We accept that PPE had to be purchased quickly but we should not be facing into a crisis in that way. Surely, we can find a more practical way of providing PPE which represents better value for money," he said.

Read also: LAOIS SANWICHED