Northumberland MP takes tour around award-winning NHS manufacturing hub
A Northumberland MP was left impressed by his visit to an award-winning and nationally-recognised NHS PPE production facility in the county.
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s Manufacturing and Innovation Hub is the result of a project launched at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic to meet the sudden, growing demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical equipment.
By May 2020, the Trust was producing isolation gowns and distributing them across the north of England, before outgrowing its previous home in Cramlington and moving to the new 40,000 sq m base at Seaton Delaval.
Officially opened by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in February this year, the facility, which now produces not just gowns but scrubs, theatre hoods, masks, theatre hats and pillows, created 60 jobs and 10 apprenticeships, and has plans to expand.
The site, which was originally being leased, has since been purchased by Northumbria Healthcare to support its ambitious plans for the future, in line with the Trust’s Community Promise – a pledge to make a real impact not just in healthcare but on the wider factors that affect people’s lives, such as education, employment and the economy.
The latest visitor to take a tour around the impressive hub was Ian Lavery, the MP for Wansbeck, on Wednesday, October 13.
“I was taken aback at the scale of the operation at this fantastic development which is creating jobs and opportunities right here in Northumberland,” he said. “It was great to learn about everything that’s going on there beyond the production of PPE, from medical records storage to mask recycling and the vast warehousing for equipment for the NHS across the North East and beyond.
“I was delighted to chat to some of the staff as well as to find out that hundreds of people could well be employed on the site by next spring. I said during the visit that I’d love to visit in five years’ time and see just what has been achieved, because this really feels like the start of something very special.”
The PPE manufacturing project led to the Trust taking home the award for NHS Procurement Transformation at the recent NHS in the North Excellence in Supply awards.
Sarah Rose, Northumbria Healthcare’s divisional director for the hub, who comes from a textiles background and helped the Trust to launch the venture last spring, said: “I was delighted to host one of our local MPs and tell him all about not just what we’ve done through the pandemic up to now, but also our ambitious plans for the future.
“The reason we have included ‘innovation’ in the name of this facility is very much because we see this as the start of the journey. It was born out of the dark, early days of the pandemic, but can grow into a lasting legacy for the Trust, county and wider region.”
Ben O’Connell, media and communications officer
Benjamin.O’Connell@northumbria-healthcare.nhs.uk or 07833 046680.