UK Government Department of Health Criticised for Spending More on iPhones Than Defibrillators

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The UK Government Department of Health (DOH) has come under fire due to a report which found that it spent more money on new Apple iPhones than it did on defibrillators last year. The result has been an outcry from the public, condemning the government’s lack of priority in funding essential medical equipment.


According to the report, the DOH spent £2 million on new Apple products during 2020 while spending only £1.9 million on lifesaving defibrillators. This news comes at a time when many people are struggling financially due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Public Outcry

The news has sparked widespread anger and criticism from the public, with many questioning why the government is prioritizing such luxuries over an essential piece of medical equipment. People have taken to social media to express their outrage, calling it a “disgrace” and an “appalling waste of taxpayer money”.

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.

Explanations from DOH

In response to the backlash, a spokesperson for the Department of Health said that the majority of the iPhones purchased were for staff members who needed them for work purposes, rather than personal use. They also stated that despite this expenditure on Apple products, they had still made significant investments in lifesaving medical equipment such as defibrillators.

Misplaced Priorities?

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.” 

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.


The news of this expenditure has been met with fury from the public and while the DOH has defended its decision, it is clear that people are still not satisfied. It remains to be seen how the government will respond to this outcry but for now, it is evident that there is a great deal of dissatisfaction with their spending priorities.