Over 14 000 ventilators produced in UK to boost NHS ventilator capacity

The Ventilator Challenge, driven by the UK government since the outbreak of Covid-19, has been a success as British manufacturers bolstered capacity for ventilators throughout the UK.

As scientific modelling predicted at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic that the NHS was bound to run out of ventilators, the UK government called upon several manufacturers in the UK to help add to the capacity by producing ventilators.

As Covid-19 could cause severe respiratory distress in serious cases, some patients required hospitalisation, which included respiratory assistance in the form of ventilators.

Over 5 000 manufacturers and 7 500 staff members across the UK contributed, ensuring that the NHS could provide a ventilator to every patient that required one during the pandemic.

Part of a wider strategy

The Ventilator Challenge formed part of the Government’s wider ventilator strategy, which included the procurement of ventilators from overseas, increasing the manufacturing of current designs, and calling upon manufacturers to help design and produce new models.

The production of three models, paraPAC, Vivo65 and Nippy4+, were increased, and a newly adapted model, the Penlon ESO2, was taken all the way from the beginning stages through regulatory approval.

Besides from the above, UK manufacturers were also able to take novel designs to the advanced stages of production within weeks. Four of these designs met the requirements set out by the MRHA and could be utilised in a clinical setting. They are: the Dyson/TTP CoVent, the Babcock Zephyr+, the Cambridge Consultants Veloci-Vent and the Swagelok Piran Vent.

Although these four models were all deemed fit to use, they never went to the mass production stage, as the demand was filled.

According to Dr Tom Clutton-Brook, Director of the Medical Devices Testing and Evaluation Centre, it’s extraordinary how the designs progressed within months, as designing, testing and manufacturing ventilators normally take several years from start to finish, while Guru Kirshnamoorthy, CEO of Penlon, stated that it was amazing and humbling to be part of this nationally important project.

Penlon and Smith have so far delivered more than 10 000 devices and will deliver the last of its devices, subjected to final testing, which will bring the total over 14 000.

The NHS now has readily available devices which could also help alleviate pressure during possible future pandemics.

NHS “saved” through innovation, effort

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated in a press release that the Ventilator Challenge has proven just how much Britain can achieve when presented with a difficult problem, by bringing together the best minds in innovation, manufacturing and design.

According to Health and Social Secretary Matt Hancock, the Ventilator Challenge managed to protect the NHS during the pandemic, as the best and brightest stepped forward to serve their country.

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