A consultation has been launched by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) on whether to extend access to free personal protective equipment (PPE) after March 31, 2022.

It expected PPE usage to remain at Covid-19 levels after this date, which would put pressure on health and care costs in the next financial year, and was exploring two options.

The DHSC said one option was to extend free PPE for 12 months or to end it, which would require all healthcare providers to purchase their own PPE from March 31, 2022.

It added that if the scheme ended, it would explore funding options to help mitigate this cost.