Don’t you just love to read about rich political donors shoving their collective snouts into the NHS funds we all pay our taxes for, as described in The Times today.
The government paid a medical company run by a Labour donor to supply ventilators that were more than £40,000 above the usual price. Excalibur Healthcare Services, whose chairman is Sir Chris Evans, charged £135 million, or £50,000 each, to supply 2,700 ventilators. Three weeks earlier another company had provided the same model of VG70 ventilator for £8,800.
Excalibur, which is owned via a secretive offshore structure based in the Isle of Man, said that the fees were due to a surge in GREED competition. As of last year the Isle of Man company was owned by a trust, of which “discretionary beneficiaries include Chris Evans and members of his close family”, company filings show.
Another UK company called Excalibur Healthcare Services Ltd, directed by Sir Chris, changed its name six days before a new Excalibur Healthcare Services Ltd was founded on January 20, 2020. The company claimed that this was “common practice”.
One company, Ninhao International, based in Hong Kong, was paid £4.8 million during the height of the pandemic to supply 100 SH300 ventilators for £48,000 each. The Times has found a supplier that sells the same model for $3,500 or £2,714 at present.
Analysis by The Times has found that the official entry for the contract on TED, where European governments must disclose contracts they award, incorrectly lists the supplier as a company that provides Chinese language training for people in India.
An NHS procurement specialist said they were aware that a similar model had been bought for less than a quarter of the price by an NHS trust. Ninhao could not be reached for comment.
Meheco, a Chinese medtech company listed on the Shanghai stock exchange, charged the government £32,000 each for five ventilators. About the same time another company provided them to the NHS for £24,520. Meheco could not be reached.
Jolyon Maugham, who runs the Good Law Project, which is scrutinising government contracting, said “These staggering price discrepancies defy all rational explanation. How, and why, were the lucky beneficiaries of this state largesse chosen? Good Law Project is seeing a worrying pattern”.
The Department of Health and Social Care stated “The rapid action we took to increase the number of ventilators in the UK meant every patient who required a ventilator during the pandemic has been able to access one”.
A newly-released report from the National Audit Office reveals the Government commissioned Excalibur Healthcare Services to deliver 2,700 VG70 ventilators at £50,000 apiece. This contract represented the highest cost per-ventilator undertaken by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) during its effort to procure ventilators early in the Coronavirus pandemic.
Excalibur Healthcare Services Limited was incorporated on 20 January with only one shareholder – a firm called Ectoplasm Limited. Ectoplasm is registered on the Isle of Man, a jurisdiction which is seen as a tax haven. “The Island has a standard zero rate of corporate tax,” the official Isle of Man website states. Sounds more like