University of Bath staff and students have now made over 100,000 pieces of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline healthcare workers in the city.
A team of 60 from the Faculty of Engineering & Design and across the University have been making face shields and other protective equipment since March. They passed a total of 100,000 items produced earlier this week.
The effort to utilise University engineering and manufacturing knowhow began when Faculty staff approached the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust (the RUH) in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak in March.
Through a collaborative project between the University and the RUH, the team has since produced face shields, eye protectors and ear-saving ‘ladders’, which are used with face coverings and save wearers from having to hook elastic around their ears.
Medical gowns have also been made through a parallel effort with Bath Spa University and local volunteer sewists.
All of the equipment produced has been designed to meet the highest standards. The face shields have also achieved BSI certification following rigorous safety tests, ensuring wearers are protected from airborne particles and droplets that could carry the coronavirus.
Libby Walters, Interim Chief Executive of the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“We continue to be incredibly grateful to the University of Bath, and Bath Spa University too, for their support. The face shields and gowns that have been produced for the RUH, free of charge, have helped to keep our frontline staff safe while they care for some of our most seriously ill patients.”
Professor Gary Hawley, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering & Design, said:
“The efforts to set up and continue this vital work to support our local essential services in their time of need have been nothing short of Herculean, and the whole project highlights the capability and community spirit that are inherent in our staff and students.
“I’d like to pay tribute to the people from around the University and the volunteers who’ve helped produce PPE, and give our sincere thanks to the local individuals, business and donors who have supported in a number of ways, from funding and materials to food and drinks to keep the team fuelled up during their shifts.”
PPE now offered to all local healthcare workers
All of the equipment made so far has gone to the RUH, local GPs, dentists, hospices and care homes. However, the production team are now making their face shields available to all local healthcare staff.
Dr Alexander Lunt, a lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, has been involved in the effort since it began. He said:
“We’ve reached the point where we are able to offer face shields to anyone in a healthcare role who can collect them from the University.”
Anyone interested in face shields produced by the team should email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss their needs. As the University of Bath campus remains closed to the public, collections can be made by prior arrangement only.
Team makes award shortlist
In addition to this week’s production milestone, the team also learned this week of their nomination as finalists in the Creativity for Good category at the Creative Bath Awards. The awards take place at the end of August.
The Bath PPE website has updates on the project as well as guidelines for other groups with materials and technical expertise on how to make the equipment.