THE operations manager for a Scarborough-based manufacturing company has turned over a workforce and production capacity to making much-needed PPE visors to protect NHS staff against Covid-19.

Stu Carter of Duraweld Ldt said: “The business I work for usually makes plastic stationary products such as vinyl folders, plastic pouches, A4 binders etc.

“”When the coronavirus lockdown was announced, we initially continued production, albeit with a slimmed-down workforce to maintain their safety, however, we knew demand for our products would be much reduced at least in the short-term.

“My wife, Emma, is head of assurance and compliance at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust and I knew they’d been pulling out all the stops preparing for the pandemic.

“When she rang me at 4.15pm on the afternoon of Friday 27 March, Emma got straight to the point, saying, “Stu, do you think you could produce visors for our staff to wear as part of their PPE?”.

"Knowing the huge efforts the trust were making we were really keen to support them, so our production team immediately identified three possible visor designs online. We used a computer design package to mock up all three and had prototypes ready by 5pm."

He added: “On the morning of Sunday 29 March, I met with Noel Scanlon, the trust’s executive director of nursing, at Darlington Memorial Hospital.

“Noel asked some of the clinical teams to test the three visors to identify the safest and most appropriate design.

“That afternoon, back at our Scarborough site, we quickly placed an urgent order for materials and began production with existing stock.

“By Tuesday 31 March, we’d made and delivered 600 visors. Over the following fortnight we supplied the Trust with 75,000 visors.

“The design also evolved twice during that time, based on feedback from staff and because we were working closely with the key decision-makers we were able to adapt the design very quickly to meet their needs.

“Our staff have been amazing, working day shifts, night shifts and over the Easter Bank Holiday. We’re so proud of them, we’re all so pleased to be helping the NHS by supplying the visors at cost and we’re now also making them for other trusts.”

Mr Scanlon, said, “We’re sourcing PPE through the national supply chain but, given the likelihood of an unprecedented and to an extent unpredictable demand for equipment it made sense to look for additional sources.

“Having a local supplier like Duraweld meeting our need for visors, a key item of PPE, producing a quality product with such speed, has been incredibly helpful. To say Stu and his colleagues stepped up would be an understatement.

“We’ve been very lucky to have found them and to have also benefited from the generosity and thoughtfulness of local educational establishments and businesses who have donated supplies from their science and other departments, such as goggles and disposable aprons and gloves. It really does feel as though local communities are right behind us.”