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114 – PPE – can we make it in the UK?


Until a few weeks ago most people probably had no idea what PPE stood for. 
But during the Covid_19 outbreak PPE has regularly been in the news because Personal Protective Equipment can mean the difference between staying fit and well or catching the deadly coronavirus.

In this episode I look at why there is such a terrible shortage of PPE in the UK and whether we can make the Personal Protective Equipment that we need locally.  

  • Why is there a worldwide shortage of PPE?

  • What have UK manufacturers and designers been doing to help?

  • What is the UK government doing to address the shortage?

  • How is Make it British getting involved and what is the British Textile Consortium?

Useful Resources for PPE

British Textile Consortium – Make it British has set up the BTC to help people find manufacturers to make PPE

Innovate UK Funding includes PPE projects. Claim 100% of the project costs up to £50,000. Closing date is 17th April

Emergency Designer Network Holly Fulton, Bethany Williams & Phoebe English are London based designers galvanising local garment production to offer scrubs for hospitals

Emergency Medicine Cases podcast with Dr Laurie Mazurik – one of the world’s leading experts on PPE

Comment on this episode

8 Comments

  1. Susan Peacock on April 17, 2020 at 6:50 am

    Apart from fashion companies have you enrolled any curtain manufacturers to see if they can help with ppe? Just a thought. John Lewis make curtains, Dunelm make curtains Just Fabrics etc

  2. Alexander Fergusson on April 17, 2020 at 2:15 pm

    My company (FAC Technology) and a friend’s company (Rheon Labs) are already injection moulding visor frames in the UK. We can make thousands a day and Wycombe Engineering have produced their first fully automatic injection mould that can do thousands of our visor design per shift. They can also make more moulds and send them to other contract manufacturers to use. Our design was developed in collaboration with the Infection Prevention and Control team at Imperial College (where I am also a lecturer) as well as other front line NHS staff. You can see one of the earlier prototypes in use here:
    https://twitter.com/NightingaleLDN/status/1248219429189623808/photo/1
    Let me know if there are other contract injection moulders you know who might be interested in retooling to make these visors for our NHS and care workers

  3. Gabby Freeman on April 18, 2020 at 6:14 pm

    Thank you so much for this podcast. Really interesting. I lived & worked as a designer in Hong Kong for 12 years & upon finding such a scarcity of jobs for me in the Uk upon my return have become equally passionate about manufacturing/ the lack of it in my homeland. I’m REALLY hoping this situation re PPE effects a sea change in the way the government view our industries.
    I am also really interested in helping the effort to make New PPE somehow… please can you let me know who to contact?

  4. Teresa Mcgill on April 20, 2020 at 9:39 am

    Brilliant exposition of the problems with PPE, Kate. I am just a concerned individual Brit who wants to know what is going on. Has the deadline of 17th April for grant applications been extended? I hope so! I have spread the word to all my friends, relatives, what’s app groups, NHS contacts. Looking forward to your next podcast tomorrow.

  5. Emma Hamshare on April 22, 2020 at 8:06 pm

    This is an excellent overview of the current situation on UK suppliers of PPE, raising important points that must be carefully considered both now and in future in order for us to save lives. I am a researcher at the Hamlyn Centre for Robotic surgery at Imperial College assembling information on Uk capacity to make PPE and government uptake of offers. I’ll contact you about this Kate, but If anyone else has relevant statistics or articles to share do send them to me – probably the easiest way to find me is to search emma_hamshare on Instagram and send me a message there.

  6. Joanne on April 25, 2020 at 1:34 pm

    David Nieper are making scrubs by the thousands.

  7. Gabrielle Shiner-Hill on May 1, 2020 at 3:16 pm

    Hi Do you need contacts for fabric suppliers that can send fabric for scrubs to the UK? Thanks Gabby

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