Frontline role for University of Bath

Staff from the University of Bath have now produced over 80,000 pieces of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for local hospitals and healthcare services.

More than 77,000 face shields have been made by a team from across the University working from a safe lab on campus, while over 2,200 gowns have been sewn by local volunteers through a project initiated by the Royal United Hospitals Bath (the RUH) involving both Bath universities.

Around 2,000 ear savers – which are used with face coverings and save users from hooking elastic around their ears for hours on end – have also been made.

A further 80,000 eye protectors have been put together, chiefly by local manufacturer 4Ground, working to a pattern created by Bath engineers.

The equipment is being donated to healthcare workers at the RUH, local GPs and care homes.

Collaboration with the RUH

At the start of the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak, staff from the Faculty of Engineering & Design asked the RUH how their expertise could help protect staff. All of the donated equipment was reverse-engineered to match existing PPE, and approved by the RUH following a consultation process.

James Scott, Chief Executive of the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The support we have had from the University of Bath, and Bath Spa University too, has been invaluable in our fight against COVID-19. The face shields and gowns that have been produced for the RUH, free of charge, have helped to keep our frontline staff safe while they care for some of our most seriously ill patients.”

Richie Gill with Bath PPE
Professor Richie Gill – from the production team – pictured with a face shield.

Professor Ian White DL FREng, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Bath, said: “The efforts of staff from across our community to support healthcare staff during this time by producing this vital protective equipment are incredibly impressive and should be highly commended.

“Those of us within the University aim to play a proactive role in the Bath community and our staff have exemplified this by engaging with the RUH to offer help, listening to the needs of healthcare workers and sharing their expertise in an impactful way.

“I offer my sincere thanks to University staff who have supported this effort, and to the many partners, donors, businesses and individuals who have in turn helped us to support the NHS and local healthcare professionals in this way.”

Donations of equipment to care homes and pharmacies have been arranged with the help of Bath and North East Somerset Council (B&NES). This has come about following the University’s Our Shared Future collaboration with the Council, which brings together skills, knowledge and expertise from across Bath to address challenges faced by the city and the region.

University staff are also helping Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Trust Partnership (AWP) NHS Trust to carry out PPE ‘fit tests’ for its staff by manufacturing and bottling the chemical solutions needed to ensure face masks fit correctly.

Donations and offers of help

The University is grateful to the many people, businesses and groups who have offered their capabilities, materials, funds and other forms of support to the project. Those wishing to offer support can contact the project team by emailing medicalfaceshields@gmail.com.

The Bath PPE website has updates on the project as well as guidelines for other groups with materials and technical expertise on how to make the equipment.

Requests for PPE

The University has established processes to donate PPE to the RUH and to local healthcare providers through B&NES. Care home workers can request equipment by emailing ppe_orders@bathnes.gov.uk. Other medical staff or procurement teams can contact medicalfaceshields@gmail.com to request equipment.