UK (Sky News)

Coronavirus: ‘Extraordinary’ UK effort to produce thousands more ventilators

By March 21, 2020 No Comments
Thousands more ventilators are being produced

UK firms collaborating to produce thousands more ventilators for the NHS say they are just days away from putting prototypes into production.

Last weekend, Health Secretary Matt Hancock made a public plea for help after it became apparent the UK would not have enough ventilators to cope with the expected numbers of patients with serious COVID-19 symptoms.

The Department of Health and Social Care confirmed they have asked suppliers to build “as many ventilators as they can”.

The NHS said last week that they have a total of 8,175 respirators currently with more being made available to medics every day.

The offers of help have come from all kinds of British businesses from F1 racing teams to vacuum cleaner specialists.

Gtech have switched their focus from vacuum cleaners and garden machinery to producing ventilators and have a prototype that they believe is very close to production.

“My understanding is that we could need 30,000 (ventilators),” its founder Nick Grey told Sky News.

The government has asked manufacturers to switch to making ventilators
Image:
The government has asked manufacturers to switch to making ventilators

His team of engineers has developed a prototype in their Worcestershire workshops which they presented to the government on Friday.

“I’m confident we can build them in a short time and in quite high volume… I’d estimate at a thousand a day,” Mr Grey added.

“We think we have solved all the difficult bits, we are just making the last bits of a pneumatic timer now which hopefully will be ready in a few hours. If that works we can take all the electronics off it and it will just run on oxygen supply so it is very simple.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock arrives at 10 Downing Street, London, as the UK's coronavirus death toll reached 144 as of 1pm on Thursday. PA Photo. Picture date: Friday March 20, 2020. See PA story HEALTH Coronavirus. Photo credit should read: Aaron Chown/PA Wire
Image:
Health Secretary Matt Hancock made a public plea for help over the shortage of ventilators

The McLaren F1 team is part of another consortium alongside HVM Catapult also looking to mass produce ventilators very soon.

A spokesperson told Sky News: “The designs of a preferred solution are due to be released imminently and when they are, the consortium stands ready to begin production on these immediately.”

“The response to the government’s call from across the manufacturing community has been extraordinary,” they added.

Coventry-based RDM Automotive normally produce driverless pod cars but have also asked their engineers to focus 100% of their energies on this mission that is seen as vital in tackling coronavirus.

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Spokesman Miles Garner said: “It is a war on coronavirus… in the old type of spirit of the war we have to rally round, we have to help each other and we have to help our loved ones and that’s what we are trying to do.”

As well as collaborating with business to solve the shortage of ventilators, the government has also signed a deal with independent hospitals in the UK which includes access to a further 1,200 ventilators.

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