Olympics chief brought in as PPE tsar

24 April 2020

The Government has announced the appointment of Paul Deighton, chief planner of the 2012 London Olympics, as the new personal protective equipment (PPE) tsar, whose role will be to lead the national effort to co-ordinate the manufacture and distribution of the essential equipment for frontline health and social care staff in the COVID-19 pandemic.

The appointment of Lord Deighton was announced by Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock MP.

Lord Deighton previously served as Chief Executive of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the organisation responsible for planning and delivering the 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics — which were noted for their excellent health and safety management. He also served as Commercial Secretary to HM Treasury from January 2013 to May 2015.

In his new role, Lord Deighton will co-ordinate the end-to-end process of design through to manufacture, including streamlining the approvals and procurement process to ensure new domestic PPE supplies are rapidly approved and get to where they are needed.

The Government has issued a “call to arms” for industry partners to make essential PPE that demonstrably meets technical specifications and companies such as Burberry, Rolls-Royce, McLaren, Ineos and Diageo have already started work to produce equipment including gowns, visors and hand hygiene products.

Lord Deighton will also support the scaling up of engineering efforts for smaller companies capable of contributing to the wider supply chain.

Announcing the appointment, Matt Hancock said, “Just as Lord Beaverbrook spearheaded the wartime efforts on aircraft production, the appointment of Lord Deighton will bring renewed drive and focus to co-ordinate this unprecedented peacetime challenge.”