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PPE is like ‘gold dust’ and competing countries are paying a ‘premium price’ - HSE's Paul Reid

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Irish Health Service Executive chief Paul Reid (PA)

Irish Health Service Executive chief Paul Reid (PA)

Irish Health Service Executive chief Paul Reid (PA)

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is like “gold dust” and competing countries are paying a “premium price” to secure it, according to HSE CEO Paul Reid.

He added that buying equipment has become a form of “modern day piracy” as countries have been forced to bid higher in order to fulfil demands in hospitals.

He said that securing enough PPE remains the “primary challenge” for the health service.

“Since the start of this pandemic, availability has been our primary challenge in finding and secure [supply] lines,” he said at this afternoon’s HSE press briefing at UCD.

Countries are now attempting to outbid other countries in order to secure the equipment in what Mr Reid described as “modern day piracy”.

“Whether it’s for PPE, whether it’s for ventilators, whether it’s for reagents, as soon as you think you have stocks adorned, somebody somewhere in the world is outbidding you, whether that’s at the delivery stage or if it’s nearly at the export stage.

“There’s a lot of piracy, modern day piracy going on,” he said.

He added that Ireland was quick to place orders and paid a “reasonable amount” for the first batch of PPE, which cost €208m and a second batch, which cost €67m.

“From our perspective, we paid what we believe is a reasonable price at the right point in time, our priority was obviously the protection of our staff and our patients.

“There’s certainly premium prices being paid there on the market, we did get in early and secure a very significant order of €210m or so,” he said.

He also added that PPE has now become like “gold dust” and that healthcare workers should be “prudent” when using it.

“PPE is now the new gold dust,” he said.

“There is a global modern day pircacy going on, when we secure an order, someone else is coming in to try outbid and get the order that we secured. So it’s going to be like this for a sustainable period of time.”

He said that careful use of the equipment should be particularly applied given an ongoing global pandemic.

“I would always ask people to be prudent in terms of the proper use of it but it is worldwide sought, so we would always ask people to be prudent with it,” he added.

“We want to get significant stock in hand for distribution but we will always ask for people to be prudent, particularly through a world pandemic that we’re dealing with,” he added.

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