Covid UK: NHS in England to be banned from buying slavery-related supplies

Ministers are set to ban the NHS in England from buying or using goods and services involving ‘slavery and human trafficking’ after it emerged Britain had bought personal protective equipment during the pandemic that would have been made in Chinese slave camps.

Under a tough new law as an amendment to the Government’s Health and Social Care Bill, the National Health Service will not be able to purchase equipment from areas of the communist country where it is claimed that forced labor is used in supply chains.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said he wants to use NHS purchasing power to help ‘eradicate modern slavery’.

Campaigners say this would effectively create a blacklist of companies banned from supplying goods and services to the NHS – including medical equipment, security technology and basic infrastructure.

But it is not immediately clear whether the NHS will be banned from using PPE or lateral flow tests allegedly made by Chinese slaves it has already bought – raising fears of further waste.

Human rights activists have accused Chinese tyrant Xi Jinping of carrying out a campaign of ‘genocide’ in Xinjiang province, where Muslim minorities, especially Uyghurs, are subjected to the horrific network of camps rehabilitation centers, detention centers and prisons in Beijing.

It is alleged that slaves built PPE and Covid equipment later bought by the British government.

File image of clinical staff wearing PPE in a UK hospital, May 2020

Workers make protective suits at a factory of a medical equipment manufacturer in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China, January 2020

Workers make protective suits at a factory of a medical equipment manufacturer in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China, January 2020

Sir Iain Duncan Smith sitting with his arms crossed in the House of Commons, March 2022

Sir Iain Duncan Smith sitting with his arms crossed in the House of Commons, March 2022

China is trying to reduce the minority Uyghur population with its forced labor programs, reveals a leaked report

Chinese work programs for Uyghurs in Xinjiang are designed in part to reduce the population of the minority ethnic group, according to a study accidentally published online.

The report, authored by academics from Nankai University, was taken offline in mid-2020 after being published in December 2019.

But an archived copy was discovered and saved by a researcher outside China before the university realized its mistake, the BBC reported.

Dr. Adrian Zenz, a leading expert on Chinese policy towards the Uyghurs, analyzed the report and produced an English translation.

The report states that the long-term measure of moving Uyghurs to new jobs outside the core group in Xinjiang “not only reduces the density of the Uyghur population in Xinjiang, but is also an important method to influence, melt and assimilate the Uyghur minorities”.

“Let them gradually change their way of thinking and their understanding, and transform their values ​​and outlook on life through environmental change and through work,” the report said, recommending that programs be extended to parts of the world. east and center of the country.

Dr Zenz described the comment as ‘the most startling admission in this report’, telling the BBC that the authors of the study were what made it particularly interesting.

But this week Department of Health officials admitted that £461m of taxpayers’ money had been spent on masks, gowns and gloves to protect medical staff and Covid patients who got found to be unsuitable for use.

Ministers spent £14.8billion securing PPE in the first year of Covid, according to annual Department of Health accounts. But around £8.7bn were written off, either because they were unusable or had passed their expiry date.

MailOnline has contacted the Department of Health and Social Care for further information.

A senior government source told the BBC: ‘It is only right that we use the NHS – a huge provider of all kinds of goods and services – to help eradicate modern slavery around the world.

Last night, former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith welcomed the ‘significant decision’ and urged other government departments to introduce the same tough regulations, adding: ‘We will send the strongest signal to those around the world who exploit and terrorize those weaker than themselves that the swords of justice are upon their trail.

Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokeswoman Layla Moran said: “This is long overdue. It wouldn’t have taken a pandemic to bring to light the deeply concerning links between supply chains involving forced labor – including those in Xinjiang – and PPE and other items used in our healthcare sector.

She called on the government to make a “concerted effort” to tackle modern slavery in all UK supply chains, as well as a complete ban on goods from Xinjiang.

Luke de Pulford, chief executive of anti-slavery campaign group Arise, which has pushed for change, said: ‘This is by far the most significant advance in supply chain regulation since the law on modern slavery in 2015, and in many ways goes much further.

“I know the whole anti-slavery movement hopes that the rest of the government will follow the Health Secretary’s lead on this and completely eliminate slavery from our supply chains.”

China has denied accusations of forced labor and labor transfers, which some human rights experts and the foreign government say amount to cultural genocide, as well as the so-called ” re-education centers” in Xinjiang where an estimated one million Uyghurs have been arbitrarily detained.

The Chinese government has said the work programs are voluntary and aim to alleviate poverty.

It comes as Department of Health and Social Care officials say government fraud investigators are looking into contracts to supply the NHS with PPE during the pandemic.

Giving evidence to the Commons Public Accounts Committee, Jonathan Marron, the chief executive of the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, said they had ‘concerns’ over 176 contracts worth a total of 3 £.9 billion.

Workers walk past the compound fence of what is officially known as a vocational skills education center in Dabancheng in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, September 4, 2018

Workers walk past the compound fence of what is officially known as a vocational skills education center in Dabancheng in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, September 4, 2018

Xi Jinping attends a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, December 2018

Xi Jinping attends a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, December 2018

He said the actual amount of equipment involved was worth £2.7billion – with concerns ranging from the quality of kit supplied to the performance of the contractor.

While some can be resolved through mediation and a trade agreement, he said others may require a “more legal process”.

“We work very, very closely with our internal fraud teams and the wider anti-fraud authorities,” he said.

“That is part of what we are looking at, as to how we might resolve these disputes. All options are on the table.

DHSC permanent secretary Sir Chris Wormald said the level of alleged fraud was no higher than for other government contracts.

“It is not uncommon to be in dispute over certain contracts. Some of them will be resolved entirely out of court, some of them will go to the other end of the spectrum where we believe there has been wrongdoing,” he told the committee.

“Contract fraud is a fact of life, regardless of the circumstances. It would be amazing if this were the only large set of government contracts in which there was no fraud.

“What we haven’t seen is that this set of contracts is more susceptible to fraud than average.”

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