The UK government Department of Health (DOH) is facing criticism over a report that says it spent more on new Apple iPhones than it did on defibrillators last year.
£1.5 Million Spent On iPhones For Whitehall Staff
The report from the Mirror newspaper highlighted how, in 2022, the DOH spent £1.5 million buying iPhones for Whitehall staff, whereas it only spent around only £1 million on defibrillators, which would be installed in a variety of locations for public use.
Defibrillators Save Lives
There are an estimated 100,000 defibrillators across the UK. According to the British Heart Foundation, the use of a defibrillator, along with CPR, can increase the chance of survival following a cardiac arrest by up to 75 per cent.
In the UK, defibrillators are widely available in public places such as train stations, airports and shopping centres. There are also community defibrillator schemes that place defibrillators in public places and train local people to use them in emergencies.
450% Increase On iPhone Spending Last Year
The iPhone purchases are reported to have included 1,570 brand new iPhone 13s and 650 iPhone SEs. The Mirror’s report says that if the DOH averaged just under 4,000 staff in its core Whitehall team last year, it looks as though one in every two workers got a new iPhone. The report highlights the fact that 2022 spending on iPhones at the DOH appears to have been up by a massive 450% compared to 2021.
The report highlights a quote from Labour’s Shadow Attorney General, Emily Thornberry, in response to the report’s findings, saying: “You have to question not just the misplaced priorities but the warped mentality of ministers at the Department of Health, when they are willing to spend £550,000 more on buying the latest iPhones for their own staff than on installing defibrillators in our local communities.”
Spending Was On Necessary Replacements?
According to the Mirror’s report, the response from a spokesperson was to say that DOH staff needed “access to the appropriate tools and resources to do their jobs effectively” and the 2022 iPhone purchases were to “replace iPhones that could no longer receive vendor updates and represented a cyber vulnerability.”
iPhone 13s, of which 1,570 were reportedly bought brand new for DOH staff in 2022 generally retail (at today’s prices) at around £700.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
The UK government is known to buy-in Apple iPhones in large numbers for government departments. For example, back in February 2021, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was widely reported to have purchased 11,000 64GB iPhone SE 2020’s.
Its preference for iPhones could be due to their security, reliability, ease of use, and compatibility with some government back-end systems and, of course, deals struck with certain suppliers. In the case of the Mirror’s report, the DOH spokesperson suggested that the larger spending was because of the need to buy replacements.
Contrasting spending on iPhones with life-saving for communities, however, was always going to lead to questions and criticism about values and priorities and it could, of course, be argued that defibrillators can be priceless life-saving tool that benefit everyone and worth allocating more of the department’s budget to.
By Mike Knight