The UK Government is supplying personal protective equipment to some of the richest countries in the world, including the notorious tax haven of the Cayman Islands.

While doubts remain over whether Scotland is getting its fair share of the PPE resources acquired by the UK Government, there is no doubt that some British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies may be relying on UK sources for their PPE.

The revelation came in a report published last week by the Westminster Government’s Department of Health and Social Care. In an unreported section, it states: “We are also working closely with colleagues in the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories to understand their needs and have already made significant stock available to them.”

Sources at the department, which has distributed one billion pieces of PPE since the outbreak began, confirmed that the PPE was distributed on a “supply and demand” basis as is the case with the devolved administrations.

The UK has 14 British Overseas Territories. They include Bermuda and Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Measured by GDP, the Cayman Islands is one of the richest countries in the world, and is by far the biggest tax haven, though Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands are major players in the offshore financial services industry.

Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man are the three Crown Dependencies and they, too, are known for their involvement in offshore financial services. The Department of Health and Social Care has been asked for comment.

The report contains several statements by senior clinicians, college chiefs, public health managers and trade unionists all backing the department’s approach to PPE. Not one of them is Scottish or Welsh.

The report does say: “To allow us to ensure that those facing supply issues and conducting essential work receive the PPE they need, we have set up a cross-government PPE board, Personal Protective Equipment Strategy 19 including the Devolved Administrations, to prioritise requests for PPE. We are using a clinical framework based on the UK guidance to help make these prioritisation decisions and we are getting this supply out as quickly as we can.”

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock admitted at the weekend that supplying PPE was “very challenging” and the Scottish Government had to import 10 million pieces of PPE from China through Prestwick Airport.

In a PPE-related development, SNP MP Philippa Whitford has slapped down Michael Gove, the Scots-born Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, for his confused statements on PPE yesterday.

Gove was asked about shortages on The Andrew Marr Show: “Scotland and Wales seem to have enough PPE. Why is England failing when Scotland and Wales are not?”

He responded: “I don’t think that’s quite right. It is the case that PPE is procured by the UK Government in order to help all four nations, all four parts, of the United Kingdom. So the personal protective equipment that is being used in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will have been sourced by the UK ambassador in Beijing in order to come here to those countries.

“Now it is the case that there has been a higher rate of infection in parts of England, and in other parts of the United Kingdom, but it’s not the case you can set one part of the United Kingdom against another.”

Whitford, a top breast cancer surgeon, tweeted: “Gove claimed on Marr – UK Gov procures ALL PPE for whole UK.

“Not true – while one stream, devolved nations also procure directly. Scotland has had central procurement and delivery for years. In England, norm was trusts procuring separately so had to set up whole system.”

Meanwhile, leading trade union Unite Scotland has repeated its call for Scottish based firms to be repurposed in order to manufacture protective equipment.

The union’s Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty said: “We repeat our call to work with us to approach a number of Scottish based manufacturing firms who can help address this crisis by altering their operations in order to start producing the necessary equipment needed to keep workers and the public safe.”

The UK Government is also facing criticism after a shipment of 84 tonnes of PPE failed to arrive in the UK from Turkey on time yesterday. An explanation has not yet been provided. Niall Dickson, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “This is very serious and makes a difficult situation worse.

“It would have been better had the UK Government not made the announcement in the first place – we know shipments in this supply chain are unreliable and even when they do arrive they are not always what is expected.

“In future, the NHS will expect announcements when supplies have arrived not promises about what may or may not be delivered.”

A Government spokeswoman said: “We are continuing to work to ensure the shipment is delivered as soon as possible.”

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