Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Secretary of State for International Development and MP for Berwick upon Tweed, visited Northumbria Healthcare Trust’s manufacturing and distribution hub in Cramlington last week.
The hub, which began manufacturing PPE on Wednesday May 6, will make up to 6,000 protective gowns a week for frontline NHS workers and is part of a wider network of manufacturing businesses and partners.
This network was also set up by Northumbria Healthcare Trust, working with partners and volunteers, including Sarah Rose, managing director at Lucas Jacob Ltd and director of Hobart Rose.
A six-month commitment has been made by the network of 35 businesses and partners, which is supported by NHS England/Improvement, to manufacture a total of up to 30,000 gowns a day for healthcare organisations across the North East and Yorkshire.
As well as helping to ensure a sustainable supply of PPE the hub in Cramlington, will employ 35 machinists, supporting the local economy.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who took time to meet the machinists and to put her sewing skills to the test by making a gown, said: “I think the trust has done incredibly well to set up this factory in such a short time while harnessing the energy, skills and expertise both locally and across the region to become self sufficient and support other NHS organisations.
“I would like to thank Northumbria’s leadership team who have taken up the challenge of setting up the manufacturing hub. I would also like to extend a heartfelt thank you, on behalf of all of my colleagues in Westminster, to all our health and care workers across the region who are going above and beyond to look after those in need. We appreciate every single one of you.”
Paul Dunn, Northumbria Healthcare Trust’s executive director of finance, said: “We were very pleased and proud to be able to show Anne-Marie our manufacturing and distribution hub. A facility which has been made possible by the amazing support, innovation and determination of individual volunteers, colleagues at Northumbria and other NHS trusts, businesses and partners and I thank each one of them.
“The last couple of months have been extremely challenging, but as always, the determination, commitment and resilience of our NHS workforce in our region has been admirable.”
It takes eight to ten minutes to make a gown and the material used, which was given technical approval by the Health and Safety Executive last week, is a laminated spunbond nonwoven fabric.
Products being supplied by all manufacturers in the network are mostly made in the UK – from the raw materials, the weaving of the fabric to the finishing of the gowns.