The UK Government has outlined how it aims to ensure the UK is prepared for a second wave of COVID-19 by investing further in UK PPE production and the supply and logistics for its distribution.
The strategy – released today (28 Sep) – sets out how the government is moving beyond the emergency COVID-19 response to help stabilise the nation and build resilience.It details how government is preparing for a second wave of COVID-19 or concurrent pandemic alongside usual seasonal pressures; how it is ensuring the UK has enough PPE to last through winter and making sure the nation has the processes and logistics in place to distribute PPE to those most in need.
Ken Teears, Project Manager at SAM, said: “The remarkable efforts by UK manufacturers to step up to the challenge of re-shoring PPE manufacture and production in the UK is to be commended, including that of companies in the North East.
“This strategy also highlights opportunities for manufacturers to innovate and support the ongoing PPE supply whilst looking at more sustainable solutions to the single-use challenge. SAM is here to support manufacturing SMEs in the North East and work with regional and national partners to identify further opportunities.”
The response of UK manufacturers to the crisis has been a significant achievement with, on average, UK based supply anticipated to meet 70% of forecasted demand in England in December for all categories of PPE excluding gloves.
However, to ensure the nation can respond rapidly to future demand surges, the Government are hoping to build a strategic stockpile and is calling on UK manufacturers to support its efforts.
Below, we break down each of the strategy’s key focus areas and how UK manufacturers can support the production of each of the key areas:
• UK Make capacity is now available for aprons. Pre-COVID-19 this manufacturing capability did not exist in the UK.
• Key barriers are the availability and cost of the machines to produce aprons for different care settings however the government is now investigating alternative materials to reduce unit costs and exploring environmentally sustainable materials.
• Market research suggests the UK has the capability to both design and manufacture eye protection to meet normal and COVID-19 volumes.
• Eye protection lends itself to the development of a reusable product which could also be fully recyclable.
• UK capacity is available for FFP3 masks with a large proportion of demand met by UK Make.
• Challenges remain around global availability and escalation of costs.
• R&D exploring the decontamination of single-use FFP3s could also allow such items to be reused.
• There are currently no existing manufacturers in the UK as raw materials are not available in Britain.
• However manufacturers could benefit from opportunities to re-engineer glove packaging to reduce wastage and to reduce glove usage where possible to avoid hand health issues.
• UK manufacturing and raw material is available from the UK textile industry by re-purposing fashion or furnishings factories.
• Certification process for small UK manufactures presents a barrier to entry but the Government is working with regulators to simplify the process.
• The Government wants to increase reusable sterile and non-sterile gowns with a potential to develop gowns as a service e.g. a comprehensive business model for the user including laundry. It is now working with UK Textile industry and leading universities on raw materials innovation i.e. graphene to address this.
• Strong UK capacity with potential to secure 100% of demand from UK based supply in 2021.
For more information on the support on offer from the SAM Project, click here.