Care workers in Lancashire have spoken out and shared shocking stories about a “lack of support” in the sector during the coronavirus crisis.

Hundreds of staff in the county, who do not want to be named, have responded to a survey by Unison North West about the realities of working in social care during the outbreak.

The results, shared with the Lancashire Telegraph, highlight significant problems caused by a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the small number of care managers who are flouting government advice.

Revealing a lack of preparedness by their bosses, one care worker wrote: “They haven’t notified us of suspected cases, they haven’t provided us with PPE and say we don't need it for an unconfirmed case.”

Another claimed staff are being told not to wear PPE because the face masks “scared” service users.

Unison claim most respondents to the survey thought employers were “not doing enough” to ensure the safety of staff and people they care for.

One care worker wrote to them: “When I enquired three weeks ago about extra PPE, the manager laughed and told me it's not going to be like Italy, and I was scaremongering.

“Then she was unable to get enough PPE for all staff, and despite knowing I have COPD I wasn't offered any.”

Another, also based in Lancashire, wrote: “I feel they are not protecting us with the correct PPE.

“We have in my opinion the most basic and cheapest PPE on the market.

“We even have to pay for our own hand sanitizers.”

Responding to the results Lancashire Unison branch secretary, Elaine Cotterell, said: “Hundreds of care workers in Lancashire told Unison that they were scared about the lack of PPE provided by their employers.

“Meanwhile, many of our carers are terrified to self-isolate where necessary due to coronavirus, as they have been told they will not be paid and may even be disciplined for their absence.

“Our care workers have been desperately crying out for proper protection for over a month.

“It’s time for the government to get a grip on PPE but we also call on Lancashire County Council to step in and protect care workers and the vulnerable people they care for.”

“It’s time for LCC to do the right thing and help care workers stop the spread of coronavirus, there must be no more preventable deaths in Lancashire.”

So far, Salford Council has pledged to support care workers who take time off due to illness, and other councils in the North West have given staff pay rises.

Responding to the survey findings Cllr Graham Gooch, cabinet member for Adult Services, said: "We have more than 400 care homes across Lancashire with thousands of staff who are vital key workers, providing care to so many older people across the county.

“We know this is a difficult time for all of them and thank them for their dedication.

“But we are doing much more than just thanking them - we are doing all we can to support them financially, with staffing, and with equipment.

"We have great care homes across the county and have worked with them all to drive up quality and standards.

"Our focus is supporting the care sector through this emergency so they can continue to provide care to some of Lancashire's most vulnerable people, rather than signing up to specific campaigns."

A spokesperson for the council added that while it wants to provide support to the care sector, PPE for care staff is the responsibility of individual care providers.

The Lancashire Telegraph contacted Care England, the largest representative body for care providers, but did not get a response.