North East organisations produce coronavirus PPE for NHS frontline

By Kris Jepson

A number of North East organisations are working around the clock to produce coronavirus PPE for NHS and social care frontline workers.

The Royal College of Nursing and the British Medical Council told ITV News Tyne Tees that their members do not have the PPE they need and are particularly concerned about the lack of protective gowns.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the Government would "pursue every possible option" to secure PPE for the UK.

Mr Sunak said the UK is not alone in experiencing shortages and said the issue is an "international challenge".

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Companies, universities and schools across the North East and North Yorkshire are rising to the challenge by adapting their usual work practices to ensure the staff working on the frontline of the coronavirus crisis have adequate supplies of gowns, visors, masks and gloves.

Glenn Turp from the Royal College of Nursing told ITV News Tyne Tees "Our confidence levels in relation to the provision of PPE is still very low. Some organisations are receiving it, but they don’t know when their next supply will arrive and they’re living every day in fear that they will run out. Members within nursing homes and care homes are exceptionally short. This is very concerning."

With PPE gowns in short supply, South Shields clothing company, Barbour, is producing the garments at breakneck speed.

Keeping a social distance in the factory, already they have delivered an order to Newcastle’s Royal Victory Infirmary with more on the way.

PPE production Credit: ITV News

Visors are being manufactured which protect the face, eyes, nose and mouth of frontline workers when dealing with patients.

One family run business in Acklam, Middlesbrough, which produces workwear PPE has shipped out a million masks in a week, after their products were greenlit by Government and the University of Sunderland's Institute for Automotive and Manufacturing Advanced Practice (AMAP) designed their own visor from scratch with input from regional intensive care unit clinicians.

The protective shields were evaluated and trialled by medical experts, before the go-ahead was given to produce and supply visors for frontline workers at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI).

Over the Easter holiday weekend the team supplied more than 200 visors, and continues to 3D-print and assemble the safety equipment, following strict sterilisation procedures for ICU requirements.

Sunderland based Precision Printing is producing 10,000 visors a day.

PPE production Credit: Dene Academy

A school design technology unit in Peterlee, County Durham has also produced protective masks and other PPE items, which it is distributing to various frontline workers.