The Prime Minister has spoken to over sixty of the UK’s leading manufacturers in an effort to step up the production of ventilators, and put a national call out for companies able to help.
In a call with manufacturers on 16 March, Boris Johnson asked companies to offer their skills, expertise and capability to produce the components required for ventilators, which are in short supply as the healthcare system gears up for the Coronavirus pandemic. There are thought to be around 5,000 devices currently in circulation, but reports suggest the government wants 20,000 more.
The government has set out the clinical and design specifications and asked that any business able to get involved in the design, procurement, assembly, testing or shipping of components fill in this online form or call the BEIS Business Support Helpline on 0800 998 1098.
As of 16 March, over 400 businesses had already contacted the government offering to help. Among these is construction equipment firm JCB, whose Chairman Lord Anthony Bamford said:
“We have been approached by the Prime Minister to see if we can help with the production of ventilators. We have research and engineering teams actively looking at the request at the moment.”
Establishing domestic production is expected to be difficult and could take many weeks. However, speaking to The Engineer, Make UK CEO Stephen Phipson said it was possible.
“We have a very strong contract manufacturing sector in the UK which is used to being given other people’s patents and designs and being tasked to produce them. It may need government action to smooth this process very quickly but it can be done.”