Coronavirus update: PM urges Bristol aerospace factories to build much-needed ventilators for NHS

March 20, 2020

Bristol manufacturers are being advised on measures they can take to switch production to essential medical equipment that will help tackle the coronavirus crisis.

Earlier this week the Prime Minister called on around 60 leading UK manufacturers to make specialist medical equipment including ventilators. 

Among the businesses were aerospace giants Airbus, which has its wing design centre at Filton, and Rolls-Royce, which assembles, and makes parts for, aero-engines in its Filton plant.

GKN, which makes and assembles wing parts at Filton, is also understood to be among the manufacturers to be contacted by the government.

The plea, seen by some as similar to the wartime effort to convert factories into producing armaments and military equipment, comes as the NHS faces up to a severe shortage of ventilators and other equipment.

UK hospitals currently has access to around 6,000 ventilators. But many more will be needed to cope with the effects of the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis over the coming months.

Italy – which yesterday overtook China as the worst-hit country – is understood to have less than a quarter of the ventilators it needs.

Now manufacturing sector support group SWMAS is offering support to regional businesses that may be able to switch their production lines to help reduce the UK’s shortfall.

SWMAS director Nick Golding said: “We have used our collective knowledge to identify a number of South West-based businesses with the specialist skills needed to manufacture ventilators or provide component parts.

“As a solution to this urgent requirement, we can work with these companies to help them increase their production capacity without the need to invest heavily.”

SWMAS is also offering support to manufacturing companies across a range of issues to help them navigate the current economic turbulence.

Mr Golding added: “We can offer relevant support to UK SME manufacturers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. From outlining government support provisions, to practical advice on maintaining productivity with reduced resources, SWMAS has the manufacturing expertise and industry experience to help guide businesses through the coming months.”

For more information email or call 01278 767010.

SWMAS is part of the business improvement and people development consultancy Exelin Group.


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