Liverpool Hope University is helping to plug an NHS shortage of PPE - by manufacturing it on campus.
The project is a collaboration between Hope and St Hilda's CE High School, Sefton Park, in an effort to address the ongoing disruption to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) supplies.
The University is using its state-of-the-art laser cutter to craft plastic headbands to which clear visors can be fitted.
Associate Professor Richard Hooper, lecturer in Fine Art, Design and Film and Visual Culture, has been manning the machine in the ‘FABLAB’ at Hope’s city centre Creative Campus.
He’s been able to cut more than 100 headbands each day - and will work with the scheme’s organisers St Hilda’s to keep them coming for as long there’s a need,
He explains: “There’s still a great demand from the NHS for PPE. It’s an ongoing and critical issue.
“And if we can utilise University equipment - which is not currently being used by students - in order to help create this PPE, then we absolutely will.”
Associate Professor Hooper says the process is relatively simple - with the machine cutting strips of plastic based on a digital template it’s given.
Explaining how the University had invested in the laser cutter to compliment a significant set of resources available to support students, he adds: “The machine itself is usually used in a creative, artistic setting.
“But we were approached by St Hilda’s and asked whether the machine could be used to make PPE - and we obviously jumped at the chance.
“It’s a dynamic situation, with orders coming in from the NHS through St Hilda’s, who’ve worked with other collaborators - like ourselves - to create around 5,000 items of PPE so far.
“We’ll simply do as many as we can.”
Associate Professor Hooper also points to important work from the University’s Jason Jones, Fine and Applied Art Technical Manager, and Roozbeh Rajaie, Fine and Applied Art Technician, in terms of planning and prep in order to get the project off the ground.
Earlier this month The British Medical Association (BMA) said that while PPE supplies had improved, many NHS staff were still struggling to source it.
The BMA said almost half of the 16,000 doctors they surveyed had either bought PPE directly for themselves or their department, or had relied on a donation from a charity or local firm.
Meanwhile Hope is also doing its bit for the NHS in other ways.
In April it launched a charitable project to donate free hand cream to nurses across Liverpool, in a bid to combat dry and cracked skin that comes with repeated washing of hands.
And Hope also recently donated 16,000 pairs of protective gloves to the Liverpool University Hospitals Foundation Trust – which oversees The Royal, Aintree and Broadgreen hospitals.