NHS in Gateshead & Northumberland to make Covid-19 FFP3 masks

NHS production of the highest quality Filtering Face Piece 3 (FFP3) masks to protect NHS staff in the North East against coronavirus is to begin at the end of August.

The FFP3 masks will be produced at the Northumbria Healthcare Manufacturing and Innovation Hub based in Seaton Delaval, Blyth Valley.

The hub can produce around 18 masks per minute and is predicting to manufacture between six and 10 thousand masks per day.

The managing director of QE Facilities Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary company of Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, told ITV News the mask production is "pioneering for the North East".

Anthony Robson said: "we’ll be looking at between six and 10 thousands masks per day to start with, and obviously, what that does is it avoids all of the pressures that we had last year and makes us self-sufficient in the NHS. We’re manufacturing masks by the NHS for the NHS."

The FFP3 mask has four layers, including an anti-viral layer, which has been proven to kill covid on contact and is also non-allergenic. On completion the masks are individually packed and are UV-sterilised.

Medical devices and personal protective equipment (PPE) consultant, Ruky Talawila, said the masks have been designed for the comfort of the wearer, whilst also protecting them from the virus.

He said: "we have a layer in there which provides anti-viral filtration, so as well as performing to do traditional FFP3 requirements, we have the added layer, which actually kills the virus on contact, so it’s quite a powerful mask as well in terms of viral capabilities."

The mask is individually fitted to staff members to achieve good contact between the skin and the face seal of the mask. Each mask fits slightly differently to an individual's face as this is the only way to ensure protection.

The production of masks is part of collaboration between Gateshead Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and forms part of the North East NHS's desire to produce high-quality PPE locally.

Sarah Rose, divisional director of the Northumbria Healthcare Manufacturing and Innovation Hub said: "now that they’ve got a product that’s comfortable to wear, it’s user friendly and they have to wear it for long periods of time, they just feel a lot more relaxed to be able to know that they are safe and wearing something that’s going to be easily worn."