Frontline medical staff in Manchester design 'breakthrough' PPE respirator

Medical experts say the developed 'Bubble PAPR' could be a breakthrough to protect staff during the pandemic. Credit: Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust

Medical staff at Wythenshawe Hospital have developed a PPE respirator to help keep them safe.

The team at the hospital's Intensive Care Unit, which is part of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT), say the developed Bubble PAPR could provide a 'breakthrough' to protect staff during the pandemic.

The innovate design is a Powered Air-Purifying Respirator (PAPR), which consists of a reusable collar that sits around the neck and contains a fan to draw in air through a virus filter and deliver a cooling airflow around the face.

Experts say it is a simple and low-cost device which can easily be recylced and has been designed to be compatible with infection control practices.

The team who designed the device say it is comfortable to wear and say the wearer’s face is visible, improving critical communication between staff and patients.

Dr Brendan McGrath, Intensive Care Consultant at Wythenshawe Hospital, has been the clinical lead through the development and testing process. He said:

“We have tested Bubble PAPR and we know it performs its primary function which is to protect staff against inhalation of airborne viruses. We have also now tested it in the simulated clinical environment."

The reaction from staff has been overwhelmingly positive: they saw something that was not restrictive on their face, that allowed them to communicate with their colleagues, that was pleasant to wear and will allow them to interact with their patients.

Dr Brendan McGrath, Intensive Care Consultant at Wythenshawe Hospital

Dr Glen Cooper, Program Director for Mechanical Engineering Design, School of Engineering, The University of Manchester, said:

“The Bubble PAPR is both ergonomically and mechanically the right product to meet the need to protect NHS staff during the COVID crisis and beyond.”

A patent has been filed and the development team are now working with manufacturing partners to produce Bubble PAPR in large volumes and signing up distribution partners.

The aim is to have Bubble PAPR widely available for frontline staff before the end of the year.