Coronavirus: Shropshire medical supplies firm trebles production to aid London's new specialist hospital

A medical supplies company in south Shropshire is making "three times the normal volume" of equipment to supply London's new specialist coronavirus hospital.

Up to 16,000 staff are needed to run the NHS Nightingale Hospital, and Hospital Direct, based in Clun, is aiding the operation by supplying patient handling equipment.

The appliances help in moving and turning patients with severe respiratory problems in a safer and more comfortable way that requires less staff.

Phil Gutteridge, managing director of the company, said: "The office staff of the company, comprising our customer service team, graphic design, media and sales have been dispersed to work from home through a technical network installed some years ago to help cater for such an event.

"Meanwhile, products are being turned out at something approaching three times the normal volume thanks to our team of highly motivated and skilled production staff – a team which is drawn from all corners of Shropshire and Mid Wales.

"Some of these people are offering to self-isolate from their families in order to keep supplying the frontline."

Empty office space at the company's base on The Green Industrial Estate is also being considered for additional production capacity, to be used for ventilator assembly or further storage for existing equipment.

Mr Gutteridge added: "Our team is fully focussed on helping prevent the spread of the virus and be a reliable backup for the frontline, therefore we will be helping in any avenue to ensure we can consolidate our efforts to beat this virus."

Patients were this week admitted to Nightingale Hospital for the first time.

The temporary 4,000-bed facility was built in nine days in east London, and those admitted will be on a ventilator at the hospital until treatment is finished.

Contractors and about 200 military personnel worked to get it running in just over a week, with NHS chief executive Simon Stevens describing their efforts as "nothing short of extraordinary".

Hospital Direct, which won last year’s Shropshire Chamber of Commerce Small Business Award, produces a range of products used by health and care workers to handle patients.

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