NHS purchases Northumberland factory used to make PPE during pandemic

The factory was endorsed and officially opened by Prime Minister the Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP on his recent visit to the North East. Credit: Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

An innovative NHS factory that was officially opened by the Prime Minister has taken another bold step forward after an agreement was made to purchase the manufacturing unit where it’s based, in doing so securing its long term future.

The unique project was set up to make personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff across the UK, bringing manufacturing back to the local area, boosting supply during Covid-19 and also providing a welcome uplift to the local economy.

The factory which produces isolation gowns, scrubs, theatre hoods, masks, theatre hats and pillows at a 40,000sq/m factory site in Northumberland has now finalised a new deal to buy the space so the operation can grow and become even more ambitious.

As well as providing locally made, high-quality PPE to the NHS it has also created a much more resilient supply chain.

It is hoped the deal will provide an even longer-term boost by creating the opportunity for initially ten apprenticeships in the area with a hope that this will grow over time.

This will encourage youngsters to explore a career in manufacturing and offer positions in sewing, cutting, warehouse and business administration and machine mechanics.

By purchasing the factory in Seaton Delaval, the NHS is hoping to secure the continued provision of PPE for health and social care providers and bring cost savings which can then be re-invested directly back into local health care services.

Sir James Mackey, chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The manufacturing hub has gone from strength to strength and been a vital tool for the NHS during the pandemic. This is another big step for the trust and the region because we’re all committed to working closely so everyone can benefit from this innovative venture.

“This investment marks the next step in the project and will allow us to keep producing high-quality PPE, securing the supply chain and demonstrating that our patients and staff are always at the core of all we do.

“Now more than ever, health and social care providers need to be self-sufficient in procuring equipment – we are offering a solution that allows them to become non-reliant on international suppliers.

“I’m immensely proud of this development and would like to thank everyone involved in this amazing team.”

Heather Mills the owner of Plant Based Valley originally leased the site to the NHS in the midst of the COVID pandemic outbreak in order to support the production of personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff across the UK.