COST of personal protective equipment (PPE) has rocketed presenting a challenge for the care sector, say bosses.

The four-fold rise in PPE was revealed at a meeting of the council convened to scrutinise Bolton's response to the covid-19 crisis.

Gabrielle MacDonald from the The Bolton Association of Registered Care Homes (BARCH) said prices had "gone through the roof".

She told the Health Overview and Adult Services Scrutiny Committee: "The cost of PPE has gone through the roof – paying £25 for 10 box of gloves are now paying £114 so those are the issues going forward we need to address as much as we possibly can."

This Is Lancashire:

(Huge increase in PPE)

Andrew Walton, acting head of commissioning at Bolton Council, said: "Cost of PPE has gone up exponentially, just for a box of gloves is four times as much now and on top of that the demand for face masks, so we have been supporting that around the extraordinary expenditure and that will be a challenge for us going forward."

But the meeting heard how the local authority, hospital and care homes have been working together during the crisis ­— and how local care homes starting putting in place measures earlier, including implementing lockdown and use of PPE.

Mr Walton said: "It’s been an unprecedented time and extremely challenging for care providers whether that is home care, care homes or other care providers, in particular care homes have really been challenged

"In those early months of March and April in particular workforce with sickness and the demands around PPE were extremely challenging but all providers managed to maintain services, we didn’t have any services fail, we did suspend some services such as daycare and respite, and we are now looking at reintroducing those.

"Care homes have been the most impacted, 25 of the 57 have experienced at least one case of covid-19 and we have had 111 confirmed deaths in care homes where covid-19 was recorded on the death certificate, that’s around the same as the national average around 33 per cent and it is still an awful lot of people."

But he said: "We worked very closely together as partners, with providers and colleagues from health and other agencies probably we worked much more closely together than we have ever worked."

This Is Lancashire:

(PPE use in care homes)

Bolton infection team worked with care homes to limit the spread of coronavirus in care homes, especially if residents had been discharged from hospital, with Rachel Tanner, assistant director of public health, saying the borough was "ahead of the game when it came to testing".

She said:"Our infection team advised homes to try and isolate irrespective of test if somebody was discharged they should self-isolate from within the home for the greatest protection.

“So I do think it was difficult and I think it was difficult to understand the path of the virus and how that was spread. We knew care homes were our most vulnerable and our homes did a great job.

Rachel added: "We did have infections in homes where there were no discharges from hospital so it is very difficult to say what the reason was in term of covid outbreak in homes, there were many homes where there was not a discharge from hospital.

"The homes in terms of how they supported end of life care was exemplary ensuring people were supported throughout.

"I do believe that in partnership between the hospital, the ward staff the integrated discharge team and our care sector we did the best we could in what was an extremely difficult circumstance.”

Cllr Nick Peel, leader of Bolton Labour Group, said: "This is an issues that is worrying me and has worried me since the beginning.

“This is the issue of the infections in care homes as a result of government policy, there is growing evidence now emerging across the country that this could have been avoided."

He added: "So for all the professionalism and wonderful work the damage had already been done and it leads to the UK having the highest death rate per capita of any comparable country."