The leader of Enfield Council has warned that its Government supply of equipment to protect care workers against coronavirus is “woefully inadequate”.

Cllr Nesil Caliskan claimed the supply of face masks and aprons would only last a few days and did not account for the fact that Enfield has the third-largest number of care homes in London.

Face masks and aprons were sent to councils on Friday (March 27) to protect frontline care workers from the virus.

But the council leader claimed that with 90 care homes and 60 home care agencies in Enfield, the supplies would only be enough to give providers 40 face masks each.

She added the standard surgical masks would offer some protection for workers – but only for “around 15 minutes”.

Cllr Caliskan (Labour, Jubilee) said: “Through London Councils, I have joined other London leaders to call on the Government to make the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) a priority.

“The Government needs to do much more to ensure that frontline social care staff are prioritised alongside frontline NHS staff for PPE. Supply needs to be increased significantly before there is a surge in the number of coronavirus cases.

“Without adequate protection for our frontline social care workforce they face a serious risk of contracting the virus and we lose them from our workforce. This would create a huge challenge for councils as we try to protect and support our country’s most vulnerable citizens.

“When we received the government supplies last Friday, after waiting for days, it was clear that it was woefully inadequate.”

Enfield Council is making its own efforts to secure protective equipment, providing financial relief for care providers so they can continue to buy it in directly.

It is also working with local businesses such as builders, nail bars and hairdressers, who are donating face masks, gloves and aprons.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care admitted there had been “limited distribution problems to begin with” but claimed enough PPE supply is now reaching the front line.

The spokesperson said: “We are working around the clock to give the NHS and the wider social care sector the equipment and support they need to tackle this outbreak.

“In the past two weeks the NHS supply chain have delivered 170 million pieces of PPE equipment, and another 2.9 million face masks were delivered on Tuesday.

“Whilst we are confident that enough supply is now reaching the frontline, we appreciate there were limited distribution problems to begin with while we dealt with a new demand caused by this emerging epidemic.

“The full weight of the Government is behind this effort and we continue to work closely with industry, social care providers, the NHS, NHS Supply Chain and the army so all our NHS and care staff have the protection they deserve.”