Herts County Council’s PPE bill tops £1.9 million for month of April

Hertfordshire County Council spent almost £2m on PPE during April. Picture: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA

Hertfordshire County Council spent almost £2m on PPE during April. Picture: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA - Credit: PA

Almost £2 million worth of vital personal protective equipment was paid for by Hertfordshire County Council in April – as the price of face masks and disposable gloves soared during the peak of the pandemic.

Thousands of pieces of PPE are now being provided to care homes and frontline council workers every day.

But not even the county’s bulk buying power has made it immune to the soaring prices charged at the height of the pandemic.

Now it has emerged that in April the cost of that PPE – including masks, goggles, gloves and aprons – topped £1.9m.

At times in April the council was having to pay up to £1.75 for a face mask – that had cost just 20p back in December. That price is almost nine times higher than the pre-Covid price.

There were times when the cost of 100 nitrile gloves increased to £4.75, from the £3.00 paid in December.

The price of disposable aprons more than doubled – from around £1.50 for 100 in December to a peak of £3.50 in April.

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Director of adult social care Iain MacBeath said price increases in PPE would have initially been felt most by smaller care homes, who bought in smaller quantities.

But – following the announcement of government funding – the county council has been making PPE available to care homes throughout the county, either by supplying directly or reimbursing their costs.

That has meant the bulk purchases made by the county council have kept prices relatively low and ensured availability.

More recently the amount of PPE being supplied to care homes has increased to 25,000 items a day, following changes in government guidelines.

And within three months the council’s expenditure on PPE is expected to reach up to £9 million, despite prices having normalised.

Mr MacBeath says that while the number of items being purchased has increased, the prices have broadly returned to normal levels.