Colin Smyth MSP
Colin Smyth MSP

The Scottish Government has “questions to answer over its policy on the purchase of PPE for the NHS”, after Alpha Solway announced it was set to carry out a review of staff numbers.

The company, which is part of the Globus Group and has factories in Annan and Dumfries, has said the review comes after a drop in demand for PPE following the Covid pandemic.

The company landed a major contract in 2020 to supply PPE to NHS Scotland and benefited from £4.8 m of investment from Scottish Government agency, the South of Scotland Enterprise Agency.

However, the company announced that contracts from the NHS in recent months had stopped and it was reviewing staffing levels at its two sites in Dumfries.

Alpha Solway has stressed that while a consultation has started, no final decisions on the impact on staffing levels have yet been made.

Colin Smyth said: “The news from Alpha Solway is deeply concerning and my thoughts are very much with staff at this time.

“While the company say no final announcements have been made, clearly if NHS contracts for PPE have stopped that will have a massive impact. The possible effect on jobs is extremely worrying, especially at time local families are facing a cost of living crisis.

“I have spoken to representatives of Globus Group and I have encouraged the company to do all it can to help workers and minimise redundancies. However, it is clear that something has gone badly wrong.

“We have a company who have talked about expansion for the past few years, now looking at further reductions in their workforce and a Scottish Government who provided significant funding to support the firm in its plans to manufacture PPE locally, now stopping contracts for that very PPE.  You only have to visit any healthcare facility just now to know that PPE is still being used widely and will be for some time to come.

“One of the biggest lessons from the pandemic is the need to never again find ourselves in a position as a country where we have to rely on importing PPE, given the huge challenges we had over securing supplies. It is vital that PPE is manufactured here in the UK where we can better secure supplies if, and when, it is needed. It is also madness from an environmental point of view to rely on importing PPE from the other side of world when we could be making that product here in Scotland. The Scottish Government clearly has questions to answer over its policy on the purchase of PPE for the NHS.”


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