Care home bosses warn a government pledge to provide six months’ free PPE for the ailing sector only “scratches the ­surface of what is needed”.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said his £550million plan will protect homes from a devastating second Covid wave.

But care chiefs told the People that strict quota caps restrict homes from ordering the quantities of masks, aprons and gloves they need to stay safe.

Many say they are still purchasing PPE privately, at inflated prices, to ensure sufficient stockpiles.

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Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock made the pledge

Raina Summerson, chief executive of Dorset care provider Agincare, said: “We don’t anticipate this will meet our needs.

At the height of the pandemic we were using far more than in these allocations.

What’s being offered would only have covered about a third of our use, so we will need to continue to source and fund other supplies.”

The PPE portal limits a 25 to 49-bed home to accessing 350 paper masks, 600 aprons and 600 pairs of gloves a week.

PPE has been a major issue throughout the pandemic

They can also order up to three 500ml bottles of hand gel and one box of 50 visors.

Homes with 100 or more beds can order up to 2,000 aprons, 200 visors and 1,800 pairs of gloves.

Paul McLaughlin, 69, owns two homes in Southport, Merseyside, with 25 and 26 beds.

He said: “We are entitled to 600 pairs of gloves at each, which sounds a lot.

Care homes fear a devastating second wave of deaths (stock image)

"But when each resident needs about 15 personal interventions from staff per day, then that’s 375 pairs used every day.

“You don’t need a maths degree to work out the offer doesn’t go very far. It just scratches the surface.

“Unless the Government gets to grips and helps care homes out with our
increased costs, hundreds will go.”

Care home bosses accessing the portal last week said they struggled to order what they required. One described the system as being in “meltdown”.

The National Care Forum’s Vic Rayner said: “On face value, the offer sounds like a lifeline.

"But for this to move from a headline to reality we urgently need to see the small print.”

The Department of Health said 200 million items of PPE had been provided to care homes in the pandemic, adding: “We are enabling primary and social care providers to meet all their Covid-19 PPE needs, free of charge, by increasing the order limits on the PPE portal.”