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Inverness companies join forces to meet the urgent need for coronavirus protective equipment at Raigmore Hospital


By Gregor White

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Pawel de Sternberg Stojalowski of Aseptium models one of the face shields now protecting staff at Raigmore Hospital.
Pawel de Sternberg Stojalowski of Aseptium models one of the face shields now protecting staff at Raigmore Hospital.

Firms based at Inverness Campus have produced a supply of face shields for staff working at Raigmore Hospital.

4c Engineering and Aseptium contacted NHS Highland to see if their combined design and rapid manufacturing capabilities could be of used to them.

Their offer to produce face shields was take up by the intensive care team.

Project Corran – taken from the Gaelic for "crescent", the shape of the face shield when viewed from above – the team designed the simplest method of providing face protection that would be robust, secure and comfortable and could be rapidly manufactured in volume.

The introduction of lockdown measures partway through the process led to problems obtaining necessary materials, but led by Inverness Chamber of Commerce, the city business community rallied to help.

The first prototype was unveiled to Raigmore's intensive care and infection control staff on Friday and the green light was immediately given for 1000 units.

The first 200 were delivered on Monday afternoon.

The Corran design is simple and made of four commonly available components.

The design is being made freely available and can be found at https://bit.ly/33YS9Ju with full manufacture guidance.

The firms' only request to others who want to take up the design are that credit is given, that modified designs have an equally open license and that manufacture is non-profit.

Lochgilphead-based Midton Engineering have already taken the design and seen it approved by hospitals in Oban and Mid-Argyll.

Peter MacDonald, director of 4c Engineering, said: "The end result of this engineering, procurement and manufacturing challenge is a simple and efficient design, however this is the result of considerable applied innovation to mitigate the supply chain constraints.

"Although national procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) has been progressing at pace, we were able to ensure that the ICU in Raigmore, our local hospital, was well provided with the first 1000 Corran face-shields and as we’ve made it open-source we hope that the lessons we’ve learned can be applied by makers across the country and beyond."

Pawel de Sternberg Stojalowski of Aseptium added: “This project is a testimony to what a collective of engineers can achieve when they face a challenge together. It's all about community and collaboration.”

Stewart Nicol, chief executive of Inverness Chamber of Commerce said: “I congratulate chamber members 4c Engineering and their partners on an outstanding and remarkable achievement.

"It has been great to work with them to help source materials and local suppliers.

"The delivery of a substantial quantity of this vital equipment to help NHS Highland deal with the challenge of Covid-19 in such a short timescale is outstanding.

"To make their design ‘open source’ is a credit to everyone at 4c Engineering and it is fantastic to see innovative Highland businesses leading the way."

Dr. Jonathan Whiteside, the clinical lead in Raigmore Hospital's department of critical care said: “Whilst we are generally happy with the NHS supply chain, at times of great demand, such as we are seeing with the Covid-19 pandemic, there can be interruptions or shortages.

"We were delighted to be approached by 4c Engineering, who were able to source materials locally, and produce much needed protective visors.

"These have been put to immediate clinical use in our intensive care unit, providing staff with the necessary protection and allowing them to continue to provide high quality care, during these difficult times.

"Our whole team are extremely grateful and are proud to be supported by local businesses working together, and helping us care for our patients in NHS Highland."

Other organisations tat helped in the process were: Dunelm Mill, James Dow, Highland Office Equipment, Porex Technologies Ltd, HIE, SMAS, LifeScan, Glenmore Lodge, Inverness Chamber of Commerce and Varrich Engineering.

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