Over the past 11 months, engineers from BAE Systems’ Submarines business - along with Lancastle and staff from the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) - have pioneered new personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff on the COVID-19 wards.
From Concept to Approval in 11 Months
Designed free of charge, after 11 months BAE Systems new PPE hood has gone from concept to gaining Health and Safety Executive (HSE) approval fur use during the pandemic.
Over the next few weeks, the hoods will be rolled out in hospital wards in Lancashire and South Cumbria, replacing current PPE hoods which were originally designed for industrial environments not clinical.
Reportedly suitable for all face shapes and sizes, the new Morecambe Bay Hood is less expensive, fully cleanable, reusable and offers greater protection and comfort to healthcare workers.
How does it work?
The new PPE has been designed as a full-face protective hood, that provides a continuous stream of clean filtered air to reduce ‘fogging’ and improve communication and empathy between healthcare workers and patients.
“The dedication of our frontline workers has been instrumental in fighting COVID-19, but the Morecambe Bay Hood will be an absolute game-changer for us as we continue to care for patients, significantly improving comfort, durability and communication,” said Stuart Hosking-Durn, Head of Resilience and Patient Flow for UHMBT.
“It’s a UK success story, with our thriving tech sector supporting our frontline workers as they help our country to emerge from the pandemic. The hoods could be rolled out more widely across the UK and could enable the NHS to treat patients with infectious diseases more safely,” added Hosking-Durn.
A Closer Look at the Project Over the Last 11 Months
Trialled at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, BAE Systems’ Submarines Human Factors team worked with NHS personnel to simulate critical activities. The critical feedback provided by the NHS personnel was used to refine the final product that has received approval by the HSE and the British Standards Institution (BSI) for use during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Approached by Hosking-Durn and the UHMBT team, BAE systems was asked to help design an air-fed mask, following its previously successful deployment of 3D printed face shields and curtain hooks for the NHS Trust at the beginning of the pandemic.
In collaboration with the Innovation Agency - the Academic Science Network for the North West Coast - BAE systems developed its upgraded PPE with an innovative air manifold system, noise reduction features, a large visor, and a protective sheath.
Throughout the prototyping process, BAE system used 3D printing technology to accelerate the development and reduce costs. The company plans to continue to use the technology for the production of the complex air manifold system.
“We’re proud that we’ve been able to donate some of our technical expertise and more than 2,000 hours of voluntary work to help our community and society overcome this technical challenge at a time of real need. Throughout the pandemic, our employees have worked hard to help support a wide range of organisations and we’ll continue to play our part in helping where we can,” said Steve Timms, Submarines Managing Director, BAE Systems Submarines.
“This innovation in PPE is a true example of collaborative working between local companies, the NHS and the Academic Health Science Network on an innovation which was designed with our NHS colleagues in mind, to protect them as much as the patients they care for,” said Dr Phil Jennings, Innovation Agency Chief Executive.
“We've woven together a complex web of ideas, skills and specialisms from across the BAE Systems engineering team to deliver a product that will play a pivotal role in the fight against COVID-19,” concluded Jennings.