As the nation pushes ahead with efforts to supply Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the NHS and other branches of the health and social care sector amidst the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak, Kitronik, along with its customer base, have stepped in to help. The combined efforts have already impacted on the safety of staff at a national pharmacy chain and NHS frontline staff.
Kitronik, a Nottingham based electronics and educational technology company that supplies its products to design and technology teachers across the world, Nottingham Hackspace, a group for makers and crafty creatives, along with numerous schools across the UK, have responded to the shortage of PPE by putting their design and engineering skills to good use to create a protective face shield.
The designs for the face shield, which will reduce the risk to frontline staff who face exposure to Covid-19, are being made available free of charge on the internet so that tech companies and the members of the maker community can work together to supply health workers across the UK with the face shields.
Making the designs freely available has led to them being accessed by Design and Technology Departments in UK secondary schools. Students and teachers have then acted quickly, making the masks and supplying them directly to the NHS.
The initiative has been undertaken in response to an appeal from Dr Hussain Ghandi of the Wellspring Surgery in St Annes, Nottingham. Dr Ghandi called for tech firms and makers with laser cutting facilities and 3D printers to use their skills and switch their production lines or use hobby skills to create the much-needed face shields.
Dominic Morrow, the Co-Founder and Trustee of Nottingham Hackspace invited Kitronik to become involved in the project. Working with speed, the team created a face shield design that is cost effective, fast and straightforward to manufacture, key factors in the current crisis. The shields cost under 50p each to manufacture and will be supplied by Kitronik on a not for profit basis. The electronic company has already shifted its production to concentrate on the supply of face shields.
Kitronik director, Kevin Spurr, says: “Myself and fellow director Geoff Hampson love a challenge and in liaison with Dominic were pleased to design the face shield which is available to download from our website so that the maker community can get involved. We were able to quickly gear up for production at our Nottingham factory and can produce 500 masks per day, whilst also supplying the raw materials for schools and colleges across the UK to make their own.”
Whilst the shortage of PPE for medical personnel has received much publicity, the needs of staff who are employed by high street pharmacies has had less attention. This branch of the UK’s health and social care infrastructure is in severe need of PPE. With many GP surgeries closed to anyone other than Covid-19 patients, pharmacies are at the frontline of the nation’s healthcare but despite this, they have received very little PPE equipment from the NHS to protect their staff from exposure to coronavirus. Many pharmacy chains are having to source their own protective equipment for staff and obtaining this essential equipment is proving increasingly difficult.
PCT Healthcare, one of the largest privately owned pharmacy groups in the UK with stores across the Midlands, South Yorkshire and the North West, is having to seek solutions to this challenge. Joe Cattee, Director of PCT Healthcare, contacted Kitronik having heard about the company making the designs for the face shields available on the internet and undertaking production.
Following discussion with Kevin Spurr, Kitronik is to supply PCT Healthcare with 2,000 face shields immediately, with 500 being donated to the pharmacy group free of charge.
Joe Cattee says: “Along with many pharmacy groups, we are in desperate need of PPE. Our staff are coming into contact with hundreds of people each day and potentially being exposed to coronavirus and we have a duty of care to protect them as much as possible. The speed at which Kitronik has made the masks available is fantastic and we are now quickly deploying them to our staff.”
Kevin Spurr adds: “After the hard work last weekend in designing and planning the production of the face shields, we are having a positive response which shows the high level of demand. It’s satisfying to know that our face shields are out there, doing their intended job of protecting frontline workers such as the staff at PCT Healthcare. Any other firms who are interested in producing the shields can find the designs available on our website and we’re happy to share our expertise with interested parties.”