The unique project was set up to make personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff across the UK, bringing manufacturing back to the local area, boosting supply during Covid19 and also providing a welcome uplift to the local economy.
The factory which produces isolation gowns, scrubs, theatre hoods, masks, theatre hats and pillows at a 40,000sq/m factory site in Northumberland has now finalised a new deal to buy the space so the operation can grow and become even more ambitious.
As well as providing locally made, high quality PPE to the NHS it has also created a much more resilient supply chain and created more than 60 jobs for local people at a time when the pandemic is placing a strain on the North East economy.
It is hoped the deal will provide an even longer-term boost by creating the opportunity for initially ten apprenticeships in the area with a hope that this will grow over time.
This will encourage youngsters to explore a career in manufacturing and offer positions in sewing, cutting, warehouse and business administration and machine mechanics.
By purchasing the factory in Seaton Delaval, Blyth Valley the NHS is hoping to secure the continued provision of PPE for health and social care providers and bring cost savings which can then be re-invested directly back into local health care services.
Sir James Mackey, chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The manufacturing hub has gone from strength to strength and been a vital tool for the NHS during the pandemic. This is another big step for the trust and the region because we’re all committed to working closely so everyone can benefit from this innovative venture.
“This investment marks the next step in the project and will allow us to keep producing high-quality PPE, securing the supply chain and demonstrating that our patients and staff are always at the core of all we do.
“It’s also vitally important that we can help to create employment and learning opportunities for local people in our own local communities. This is especially relevant in the current climate as we try and help the local economy get back on its feet.
“Now more than ever, health and social care providers need to be self-sufficient in procuring equipment – we are offering a solution that allows them to become non-reliant on international suppliers.
“I’m immensely proud of this development and would like to thank everyone involved in this amazing team.”
Sarah Rose, acting divisional director at the factory added: “This has been such a fantastic opportunity to bring together local machinists, factory workers and seamstresses on a huge scale and this new investment is a real signal of our intent.
“During the pandemic our hard working NHS teams have gone above and beyond to protect the public and this is our way of giving something back – by ensuring that they have access to the life saving PPE that they deserve.
“The fact that we are creating jobs and providing a cash injection for the local economy in the process is an added benefit for all.”
The factory was endorsed and officially opened by Prime Minister the Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP on his recent visit to the North East.
Heather Mills the owner of Plant Based Valley originally leased the site to the NHS in the midst of the COVID pandemic outbreak in order to support the production of personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff across the UK.
You can see a brief video of the factory unit below: