A hospital boss has slammed a company for “outrageous profiteering” during the coronavirus crisis after it allegedly hiked the price of a single item of PPE by more than 700%.
Nick Hulme, chief executive of the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, said a company had offered to sell him coveralls at £16.50 each - when two months ago they were priced £2 each.
The hike is a 725% rise from the original price.
Writing on Twitter, Hulme didn’t name the organisation but said: “Just had a company contact me to offer coveralls at £16.50 each.
“Two months ago they were selling them for £2.00 each. Outrageous profiteering.”
Just had a company contact me to offer coveralls at £16.50 each. Two months ago they were selling them for £2.00 each. Outrageous profiteering.
— Nick Hulme (@Nickhulme61) April 23, 2020
He was backed by Ipswich MP Tom Hunt, who said it was “disgraceful” amid the current crisis.
Hunt told the Ipswich Star: “We are living through unprecedented and hugely challenging times and this type of behaviour when there is such a shortage of protective equipment I think is disgraceful and I think the company should be named and shamed.”
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He referred to comments by Chancellor Rishi Sunak when he said people would want to look back on what they did and the part their played during the coronavirus outbreak, and added: “I think certainly if I was involved in that company I would be ashamed.”
He also called for some sort of punishment to show that such behaviour isn’t acceptable.
Very depressing that any business would act in such a disgraceful fashion during a national emergency https://t.co/caCaNesAWR
— Tom Hunt (@tomhunt1988) April 23, 2020
The news comes amid an ongoing crisis over PPE in the NHS.
Two doctors, married to each other, are bringing a legal challenge against the government questioning the lawfulness of current guidance and a failure to source PPE.
In a pre-action letter announced on Thursday, Dr Meenal Viz, a clinical fellow in medicine, and GP trainee Dr Nishant Joshi, brought the complaint against the Department of Health and Public Health England.
Both NHS doctors say they have been exposed to patients with coronavirus and are challenging the lawfulness of current PPE guidance on when and how equipment is used, as well as equipment availability.