An initiative set up by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which saw the trust establish its own PPE factory to produce gowns for frontline staff, has now produced more than two million items of protective clothing for the NHS.
Using local connections and leasing a warehouse in Cramlington from a nearby firm, the trust established its manufacturing and distribution hub for personal protective equipment (PPE) at the height of national shortages and since May has been producing gowns for use by NHS Staff across the North East of England.
The trust has now revealed the hard work of its staff and volunteers has now seen more than 2.2 million gowns created and distributed to protect NHS staff throughout the region.
The initial target when setting up the PPE factory was to produce around 6,000 gowns a week. The mixture of volunteers and paid workers have made gowns, theatre hoods and scrubs during the past six months, with plans to branch out and produce further in-need products in the coming weeks and months.
Chief Executive of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Sir James Mackey, said: "It’s incredible to see how far we have come in such a short space of time since the opening of our Northumbria manufacturing and distribution hub.
"Across this six-month period there has been over 2.2 million gowns produced, which have gone on to help protect our frontline teams here in our trust and across the region from coronavirus.
"The pandemic has undoubtedly proved challenging, but the determination, commitment and resilience of our NHS workforce in our region has been admirable. We’re thankful to everyone who has helped to make this happen."
The Northumbria Manufacturing and Distribution Hub forms part of a wider network of business, which has grown after the trust asked for help to boost protective grown supplies. The network now includes dozens of factories and businesses.
Having extended its production past its initial three-month period, the trust now hopes it can continue beyond the coronavirus pandemic to ensure a more sustainable and local supply of protective gowns is available, as well as supporting the local economy to regrow.
The trust’s Director of Finance, Paul Dunn, and local textile industry expert Sarah Rose joined us a few months back on NHE’s Finger on the Pulse podcast to discuss how establishing the factory came about. Listen below: