Four-month stockpiles of PPE are to be made available to health and social care staff from November, the government has announced.
The announcement came as the government published a new PPE strategy setting out a data-driven approach to building further resilience in the supply chain in response to rising rates of coronavirus infection.
Health and Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “At the start of the pandemic, meeting the huge demands for PPE was a massive challenge.
“That’s why we have worked every day since to ensure we have an uninterrupted supply to meet the challenges in the coming months and protect those who are protecting us.
“We have built robust and resilient supply chains from scratch and thanks to an absolutely phenomenal effort from UK businesses, almost three quarters of demand for PPE will soon be met by UK manufacturers.
“As we take every step to combat this virus we are setting out this plan to reassure our health and social care workers that they will have the PPE they need to carry out their tireless work.”
The government said over 32 billion of items of PPE had already been supplied to health and social care workers with 70% of demand expected to be met by UK businesses by December.
Responding to the announcement, care home operators said the plans would only “scratch the surface” of need, however.
Raina Summerson, chief executive of Dorset care provider Agincare, told the Mirror: “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.”
Vic Rayner, executive director of the National Care Forum (NCF), added: “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.”