hospital ward, coronavirus, ventilatorsOn 16 March 2020, the Prime Minister requested help from companies to manufacture, design and build a vast number of NHS ventilators to help in the fight against COVID-19.

The ventilator challenge aimed to increase the stock of vital breathing equipment to ensure that patients with impaired lung function had access to the support they needed.

After making an appeal to business across the UK, the response surpassed expectations, with more than 5000 companies offering to design, build and manufacture new, safe ventilators.

The challenge has been operating on a number of fronts, including the manufacture of existing ventilators, teaming up larger manufacturers with smaller bespoke ventilator makers to scale up production, as well as asking renowned engineers to design new ventilators.

On 13 March, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) published a revised specification, detailing the minimum clinical standards acceptable for ventilator use within UK hospitals throughout the pandemic.

As we continue to discover more about the virus and its nature, it is important that clinicians and engineers continue to work together closely to carry on supporting the patients and hospitals that are in desperate need of additional equipment.

In order to maintain safety and medical standards, all offers of support have been reviewed against the MRHA specification. From this, a shortlist of companies has been formed, all of whom are taking their designs to a Technical Design Authority, comprised of clinicians, regulators and engineers, to have their devices reviewed.

The manufacturing of prototypes, including new and modified existing designs, has commenced and once this is completed, further extensive testing will take place to ensure the ventilators are safe to use while also meeting clinical requirements.

Over the coming weeks, the production and distribution of ventilators across the UK is expected to increase significantly to meet the demand, with thousands of new ventilators making their way to hospitals across Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

If you have any queries relating to the ventilator challenge please email [email protected]