When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, there were major challenges ahead for the NHS with sourcing critical PPE supply and UK demand.
With the healthcare sector in crisis and pressure to provide PPE for frontline workers, the lack of safety equipment and rush to ensure it was delivered as fast as possible across the NHS brought to light a lot of fundamental issues. These include the importance of fit for purpose PPE, but also the seriousness that poorly fitting respirators pose to an individual’s safety.
At the early stages of the pandemic, Alpha Solway, part of Globus Group, integrated its healthcare team within NHS Trusts across England and Scotland to help facilitate face fit testing training to those frontline workers who needed it most. North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Trust was an integral part of the process.
Through working alongside the health and safety team at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Trust, Globus has worked to ensure that its products are meeting the needs of the NHS workforce, and created a new range of face masks offering a better fit and higher levels of protection for females, helping to safeguard every healthcare worker, providing a mask that fits correctly.
The specialised programme consisted of face fit test support, both qualitative and quantitative, training, and FFP3 selection at both of the Trusts hospitals, Cumberland Infirmary and West Cumberland Infirmary.
Adam Birtles, area sales manager at Globus Group, explained: “Over the months Alpha Solway, part of Globus Group, also manufactured initial respiratory protection for the Trust and supported the implementation of the product.
“Our team has helped support a long-term foundation for the Trust and implement a strategy for face fit testing moving forward. We have also kept in touch with the workers and provided further support and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.”
Susan Cameron, lead health and safety advisor at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Trust, continued: “Our healthcare workers have constantly expressed how grateful we are for Globus Group’s expertise. The team’s approach with staff, who were highly anxious, to ensure their safety while caring for our Covid-19 patients during this pandemic incident was second to none.
“Where we had limited ability to undertake the numbers of fit tests required to keep staff safe last March, the Globus Group team really came to our rescue supporting us with equipment and testing during a time when national stock levels were a concern. I am really very grateful to Globus Group for the fit testing support provided.”
Since the initiative was embedded at the Cumbria NHS Trust, Globus Group has taken those learnings and implemented them across many other Trusts across the UK. Working in partnership with the NHS has given Globus Group an understanding of how to personally adapt and innovate its PPE products for future generations, throughout the pandemic and beyond.
Susan added: “The Globus Group team’s personal humour and an expertise given to the health and safety team where they were going for fit-to-fit accreditation was an act of genuine Kindness. Some staff may never know how much of a difference they made in bringing some calm to our crisis so we would like to say, thank you!”
Throughout the pandemic, international PPE company Globus Group has prioritised long-term investment in quality and learnings from frontline workers. Globus committed to producing 75% of PPE products in-country, and quickly cemented viable British manufacturing by investing in three new UK manufacturing facilities. This helped to ensure the reliability of supply and performance of PPE as well as enabling the freedom to create a better fit and higher levels of respiratory protection.
It’s been widely reported that the quality of face masks healthcare workers wear makes a huge difference to the risk of coronavirus infection. Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust research found that wearing an FFP3 mask can provide up to 100% protection. In contrast, there is a far greater chance of staff wearing standard issue surgical masks catching the virus.
However, masks which have been made to fit the ‘average person’ by default can be a poor fit for those with smaller face shapes such as women, who make up 90% of NHS nursing staff.