New ventilators could be in NHS hospitals for coronavirus patients ‘within DAYS’ as Health Secretary Matt Hancock says six manufacturing firms have ALREADY produced them
New ventilators could be in NHS hospitals for coronavirus ‘within days’ after the government appealed for manufacturers to start producing them.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock hailed the ‘unbelievable’ response from industry as he revealed that ‘half a dozen’ firms had already produced prototypes.
The Cabinet minister said there had been ‘thousands of offers’ for help constructing the machines, which are essential for preventing victims succumbing to the respiratory disease.
He said he hopped approval could be rushed through for producing them ‘at scale’, and they would be in use within ‘a matter of days’.
The health service has been scrambling to get as many ventilators as possible in operation, with warnings that it will be the difference between life and death for many of those infected.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock hailed the ‘unbelievable’ response from industry as he revealed that ‘half a dozen’ firms had already produced prototypes
Today’s ventilators include a computer-electronic control system with valves, regulators, filters, oxygen and exhalation sensors, flow meters.
NHS England chief Sir Simon Stevens said earlier this week that plans were in place for a 50 per cent increase in the number of lifesaving mechanical breathing aids available from just over 8,000 to 12,000 in the next few weeks, with machines coming in from private hospitals and even the Army.
However, he told MPs whether that was enough to save lives depended on the speed of the outbreak.
In a round of broadcast interviews today, Mr Hancock said the government had been overwhelmed since he appeal for manufacturers to start building the machines last week.
“More than half a dozen companies have already made one in prototype, to check with us that we are happy with the quality,” he told BBC Breakfast.
Asked how long it would take to get the devices approved and into hospitals, he said: ‘In a matter of days.’
Pressed on whether that meant by the end of next week, Mr Hancock said: ‘I very much hope so. I would be surprised if it was longer than then..
‘We need to approve that they work as a ventilator, but ventilators, the technology is 50 years old.’
He added: ‘Then it is a matter of scale and getting some of these big manufacturing plants… to really scale up the production.’
Mr Hancock said that there was no limit on how many ventilators he wanted companies to produce.
Sir Simon Stevens said earlier this week that plans were in place for a 50 per cent increase in the number of lifesaving mechanical breathing aids available from just over 8,000 to 12,000
‘We need as many as you can possibly make and we will buy them. If we end up with too many for the NHS that is a great problem to have,’ he said.
Ministers have been deep in discussions with firms including Unipart, Dyson and JCB to transfer production lines over to making the live-saving machines.
But there have been fears that the process could take months and be too late with the disease spreading rapidly in the UK.
There have also been warnings from the Doctor’s Association UK that the NHS is short of trained staff to operate them – although thousands of recently-retired staff are now been brought back to bolster capacity.