GTech swaps vacuums for ventilators in bid to ease NHS coronavirus supply crisis
Worcester home appliance firm said supplies could be made available within days after engineers began work on project at weekend.
A Midlands company which specialises in making home and garden appliances has designed a medical ventilator to be used in hospitals in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Gtech said the ventilator could be manufactured in a “matter of days”, amid concerns that critical care facilities in the UK will come under pressure as the crisis intensifies.
The owner of Gtech began working on the project on Sunday, when the Government’s chief commercial officer asked if the company could assist in increasing the number of ventilators in the UK.
With current stock at around 8,000, Nick Grey, owner of Gtech, said he felt “compelled” to respond to calls for help from the Government.
“At first I thought it was a hoax – being asked if I could assist in making up to 30,000 medical ventilators in as little as two weeks,” he said.
“When I realised that this was a genuine need I felt compelled to help.”
A video of the ventilator in action is being presented to both the Government and NHS on Friday, as well as a design outline and parts specification.
Gtech, which is based in Worcester, specialises in making cordless vacuum cleaners and garden power tools.
Mr Grey purchased a medical ventilator as a point of reference and tasked his engineering and model-making team with designing a prototype on Monday.
Following initial difficulties with how to provide the oxygen supply, the company said the “breakthrough” was to re-purpose an everyday syringe into an oxygen-powered ram.
A valve directs oxygen into the syringe which squeezes a self-inflating air container – delivering 400ml of air directly into the patients’ lungs.
Gtech said a second syringe acts as a timer and once the “breath” has been delivered, it resets the ram ready for the next cycle, while waste gas is fed into a reservoir to enrich the patient’s air supply.
The ventilator is driven and controlled entirely from the hospital oxygen supply, meaning there is no need for electricity.
Mr Grey said: “We designed the ventilator entirely from parts that can readily be made from stock materials or bought off-the-shelf.
“This means that if Government approves and wants Gtech ventilators they can be made by almost any engineering and manufacturing company.
“Gtech could produce around 100 per day within a week or two providing we could find steel fabrication and CNC machining companies to help us make some of the parts.”
The company said it plans to produce two more ventilators, which it will submit to the Government for assessment.
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