Medilink West Midlands, the industry gateway for the West Midlands Academic Health Science Network, has been busy sourcing local manufacturers to produce high-quality surgical gowns for the regions NHS trusts. With work now underway, the region will benefit from up to 25,000 extra surgical gowns being produced a week.
A working group, led by University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) – comprising West Midlands based manufacturers – has been put together to produce and supply PPE to NHS trusts in the region.
The Birmingham Hospitals Alliance (BHA) looks after UHB, Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust and the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Hospital are currently going through approximately 100,000 surgical gowns a week. Their central procurement team quickly realised they could not continue to rely solely on international markets and decided to take matters into their own hands.
Following a call to arms to manufacturers by Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, UHB contacted the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) about a need for two types of surgical gowns for use as PPE and in surgical theatres for those trusts.
Mayor Andy Street, who chairs the WMCA, said: “Despite the extremely difficult challenges our region has faced in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, it is brilliant to see local manufacturers coming together to help our frontline workers.
“We always knew we had some of the most innovative and thoughtful companies in the world, and the number of businesses who responded to our call to arms to help support PPE supplies across the region has only confirmed that.
“I am very pleased we were able to make the link between manufacturers and UHB, and that the hospital trust will now be receiving local supplies, made by local people.”
In partnership UHB, the WMCA and West Midlands Academic Health Science Network, working with MedilinkWM, have selected and approved the local companies who are currently able to produce large quantities of these high-quality surgical gowns and work is now underway.
The companies are Wolverhampton-based Airguard Filters and Wearwell, from Tamworth. Collectively they are currently able to produce around 25,000 surgical gowns a week.
At present, the gowns will go to the BHA with the hope that more companies will be able to join the effort in the near future and there will then be enough supplies to reinforce resilience for all health organisations in the region.
Dr David Rosser, Chief Executive of UHB, said: “These efforts allow us to build up our resilience as we move into Phase 2 of the Trust’s response to Covid-19 in which we are learning from the past few months, preparing for a potential second wave and carefully reopening our surgical capabilities.
“We have been very fortunate that our procurement team have been successful in obtaining PPE during this time despite national shortages, and we have also received many kind donations.
“However, we have been too reliant on the international market and central supply centre. We do not want to be in a position where the region is struggling to obtain supplies of PPE again, especially when we enter the winter months and the pressure on the NHS increases dramatically.
“This working group will allow us build and maintain our resilience as a health service, have oversight over the quality of PPE supplied to us and continue to work with and support our local businesses.”