Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust will open a factory next week to produce protective gowns and other personal protective equipment (PPE) for front-line health and care staff tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.
It will bring together the trust, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, other NHS partners, nearby businesses and organisations to boost supplies of gowns for the trust’s teams but also across the North East and beyond.
The new Cramlington facility, based in a building leased from Wingrove Motor Company, will be staffed with 30 experienced machinists and has the potential to make 7,500 protective gowns a week.
It will run for three months with but could have a long-term future, helping the trust support the local economy, be more self-sufficient and reduce its carbon footprint.
Its network includes Northumbria University's School of Design which is already producing gowns and scrubs from its premises with the help of trust staff and volunteers.
On behalf of local NHS leaders, Sir James Mackey, chief executive of the trust, said: "I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone for their offers of support over recent weeks - the fact we have now have so many organisations and businesses helping us is a real testament to the innovative spirit of this region.
"We are receiving PPE through the national NHS supply chain but we know there is a huge demand for supplies globally which is a challenge.
“This extra support is vital to keeping stocks flowing as we use thousands of pieces of equipment every day across the region.”
The trust has been advised and supported by volunteers Sarah Rose, managing director at Lucas Jacob Ltd and director of Hobart Rose, and Michael Young as it sets up the facility.
Businesses and organisations involved so far include Camden Alterations in Whitley Bay; Simply Fabrics in Wallsend; First for Fabrics in Benton; Barbour; Acklington Morpeth; I.G.H. Manufacturing; Ena Shaw; Magic Textiles; May-lean; Northern Clothing Co Ltd; All in One; Permess Re-Cut Solutions Ltd; Hobart Rose and Jeffery Carr in Gateshead.