Labour has written to the health secretary, Sajid Javid, urging him to ensure a new £5bn contract for NHS protective equipment including gowns and masks is not awarded to companies implicated in forced labour in China’s Xinjiang region.
Following up earlier concerns about medical gloves for the NHS being produced in Malaysia, where there have been consistent reports of forced labour in factories, Emily Thornberry called for an urgent response.
Given the tenders for the contracts for gowns, masks, eye protectors and other items, and the £6bn glove contract will close at the end of August, “you have little over a week to decide how you will tackle the issue of forced labour”, the shadow international trade secretary wrote to Javid.
In the letter, seen by the Guardian, Thornberry acknowledged the challenge of sourcing enough personal protective equipment (PPE) for health and care staff, especially during the pandemic.
She wrote: “However, just as that is no excuse for the lucrative contracts awarded to government cronies with no experience of producing or providing PPE, nor is it an excuse for ignoring the risks that forced labour is being used overseas to manufacture the supplies required by the NHS.
The original full article can be found at theguardian.com