Hertfordshire social care company spends over £120,000 of own money on PPE at ‘grossly inflated prices’

PUBLISHED: 15:00 30 April 2020 | UPDATED: 15:31 30 April 2020

It has emerged that Herts care providers are spending thousands of pounds of their own money on PPE supplies. Picture: Flickr/Creative Commons

It has emerged that Herts care providers are spending thousands of pounds of their own money on PPE supplies. Picture: Flickr/Creative Commons

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A social care provider based in Hertfordshire has been spending over £120,000 of its own money on PPE to protect its workers and vulnerable clients from COVID-19.

Operations Director Alison Horne talking through tears on ITV news last month. Picture: ITVOperations Director Alison Horne talking through tears on ITV news last month. Picture: ITV

Care By Us, an adult care company which operates out of Herts and Essex, has personally funded thousands of pieces of PPE at “grossly inflated prices” over the internet.

Alison Horne, operations director at Care By Us, said her “number one priority” is to keep the “care team and the people we care for as safe as possible,” with the charity working overtime since early March to put strict precautions and protocols in place.

It has emerged that Care By Us has received only 300 masks from the government via the NHS Supply Chain, with Alison admitting that if they had “waited for the PPE to arrive,” they would now be in “big trouble.”

“We’ve purchased over £120,000 of PPE for staff, which is over and above what we normally spend on PPE, and at great expense at grossly inflated prices,” Alison told this paper. “We are lucky that we had stockpiled for Brexit with six months of PPE, because we are going through it like wildfire.”

Care By Us workers giving home visits in full PPE - as shown on ITV. Picture ITVCare By Us workers giving home visits in full PPE - as shown on ITV. Picture ITV

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Alison added that her PPE levels are now “above public health guidelines,” and she has set up six barrier care teams across Hertfordshire who are fully equipped with the highest levels of PPE to specifically look after people who are suspected COVID-19 positive.

“We are looking after 1,000 the most vulnerable people in Hertfordshire, and we must continue to help support those most at risk. We’re so proud of our staff for their efforts, and we’ve just had to get on with it.”

Wendy Butcher, area senior manager in North Hertfordshire, said that “morale is still high” among staff, with workers aware just how “important it is to keep residents safe.”

“We’re proud of what we’re doing and we know that people really appreciate the crucial work of social care right now,” Wendy said. “It’s nice that we’re getting the recognition as well as the other key workers.

“It has been strange working in PPE and with the warmer weather it has been uncomfortable, but we’re determined to keep ourselves and service users as safe as possible.”

Cllr Richard Roberts, cabinet member for adult care and health at Hertfordshire County Council, has paid tribute to the tireless work of social care providers in the county during the COVID-19 crisis.

He said: “It is absolutely right that we celebrate everyone working in the NHS – but those people working in care homes, supporting people in their own homes and other settings, are playing an equally important role right now.”


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