Access to PPE is vital to protecting frontline workers from contracting COVID-19 and limiting its further transmission. The HVM Catapult Centres have been active in ensuring that as much PPE as possible gets to the NHS frontline and to social care services. This was done both by donating over 100,000 items of PPE kit and by manufacturing key items, such as face visors, by using 3D-printing and batch cutting techniques to produce them as quickly as possible.
One medical procedure is proving crucial for survival in the most severe cases: intubation, the practice of inserting tubes into a patient’s airway for mechanical ventilation. Being in close quarters with potentially aerosolised fluids from a patient carries significant additional risks that ordinary PPE may not protect against effectively thereby increasing the risk to frontline staff. Our team at the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) developed an innovative new Aerosol Generating Procedure (AGP) shield to protect NHS staff whilst carrying out this vital procedure. The shield can be rapidly deployed for the frontline use, providing the extra protection the UK’s medical staff need. The MTC distributed the first two hundred shields to NHS trusts across the country free of charge and continues to develop a final lightweight moulded version which could be made available commercially through a third-party manufacturer under licence.