Like other parts of the UK, Scotland’s critical NHS supply chains were under extreme pressure in 2020. The NMIS-AFRC stepped forward, as part of a Scottish Government led working group, to make sure that supplies were maintained.

The NMIS-AFRC led the coordination of the many offers of support from Scottish manufacturing businesses linked to provision of ventilators, intensive care equipment, personal protective equipment, hand sanitiser and testing.

In little more than eight weeks, the team handled more than 700 enquiries, spoke to more than 400 companies, organisations and individuals who offered support and ensured 210 viable opportunities were escalated to NHS Procurement and Scottish Government teams.

In October last year, a Scottish Government report highlighted the impact of this work – from a position of manufacturing zero PPE and being fully reliant on imports pre-pandemic, when gloves are removed from the calculation, over 90% of PPE sourced by NHS National Services Scotland is now manufactured within Scotland. This supply chain is thought to be worth over £250 million.

Alongside this crucial role of helping NHS Scotland respond to the pandemic, the NMIS research and engineering community generated more than 80 ideas to help in the fight against Covid-19. Many of these ideas turned into projects including collaborating with the Energy Saving Trust to deliver Transport Scotland’s Covid-19 Public Transport Retrofit Fund, where public and community transport operators were encouraged to apply to the £5 million fund to cover measures to help them reduce the risk of transmission; manufacturing 10,000 fully-certified face visors for the Third Sector, including Erskine care home for veterans; working with Bedfordshire-based, micro engineering consultancy, Astrimar, to develop and deploy an online tool to make it easier for product developers to gain rapid acceptance of new medical equipment and PPE designs to help speed up the overall process in times of need – this project was funded through Innovate UK’s COVID-19 rapid response call

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