COVID-19: Manufacturers step up to ventilator challenge
01 April 2020
The first devices from the government’s ventilator challenge will roll off the production line this weekend, ahead of delivery to the NHS next week, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove has announced.
The news comes as some of the biggest names in British manufacturing race to step up ventilator supplies to help protect the NHS and save lives throughout the coronavirus pandemic, as part of the Prime Minister’s call to manufacturers.
This weekend, the first batch of the Penlon ventilator device, which has been rapidly adapted from other existing ventilator designs, will be ready for dispatch, following approval from the MHRA that it meets the necessary safety requirements.
The device is being manufactured by a consortium* including Formula 1 teams McLaren and Mercedes, Ford, Siemens and Meggitt. An initial delivery will be ready this weekend, with potentially hundreds more of that device to follow, alongside thousands more of other new devices in the coming weeks.
Other existing ventilator devices are also being scaled up, in collaboration with British and international industry, including products from Diamedica, Breas Medical and Smiths Group.
A number of other British manufacturers have also started urgent production of new ventilators, designed from scratch, following efforts from the industry and Government to rapidly increase numbers available to the NHS.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove said, "Throughout our history British manufacturing has always stepped up in times of national need. Ventilators are one of the most complex medical devices and the speed and scale that design and production is ramping up is awe inspiring.
"We will do whatever it takes to ensure the NHS and social care sector has the support and equipment it needs to save lives."
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, "We are doing everything we can to support our NHS staff fighting this battle on the frontline, and it’s crucial we get even more ventilators there as soon as possible.
"We have seen a fantastic response from businesses to our call for a national effort - and I’m delighted these companies accepted the challenge to save lives across the country."
The Government has provided a number of letters of intent to purchase potentially thousands more ventilators with companies who have credible designs, subject to them passing the regulator and strict safety tests.
There are a number of companies involved in these devices including Plexus, Rolls Royce, GKN Aerospace, Team Consulting, Cogent, Dyson, TTP plc, Sagentia, Smith & Nephew, Cambridge Consultants, PA Consulting, Babcock, Oxford University, OES Medical, BMW, Pitlane Consortium and Kings College London.
Separately, a team led by UCL, working with Mercedes Benz, will also produce 10,000 new CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) devices to support affected patients, with a team from Oxford University also developing related technology, which will increase the capacity to provide oxygen to affected patients at an earlier stage in the process of the disease.
Thanks to the work of consortiums that are scaling up production of smaller manufacturers as well as the ingenuity of the biggest names in manufacturing to support the UK’s response to this public health emergency, many are coming up with new designs for this high tech medical devices in a matter of weeks, rather than months, further underlining the scale of this coordinated effort.
The Penlon device is based on elements found in their current range of CE marked products and meets the rapidly manufactured ventilator system specification. It is a fully intubated mechanical ventilator designed to provide support to critically ill patients with a range of functions including volume and pressure controlled ventilation.
Further details are set out in the PM’s call with manufacturers and suppliers, including other manufacturers involved: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/pm-call-with-ventilator-manufacturers-and-suppliers-26-march-2020