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Volunteers make thousands of face shields for NHS staff

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Innovative design engineers and doctors are joining forces in ShieldNHS, an ambitious initiative to make protective face shields for frontline staff in the fight against Covid-19 - and they delivered the first 2,000 to Addenbrooke’s and Papworth hospitals on Tuesday (March 31).

The protective shield for the NHS
The protective shield for the NHS

One of those spearheading the initiative is Lucy Jung, an innovation design engineer and an Accelerate Cambridge entrepreneur at the Cambridge Judge Business School. The co-founder of a medical device start-up, Charco, based at the Judge, Lucy is joined by Barry Lillis, Gordon Jowett, Alex Dallman-Porter and Dr Floyd Pierres in the ShieldNHS team.

Lucy says: “We are thinking about the national demand. We need to make as many as possible as fast as possible so that doctors, nurses and everyone on the frontline is protected. Charco’s co-founder, Floyd Pierres, is a doctor at Addenbrooke’s. He was covering a coronavirus ward and saw personal protective equipment (PPE) would be a massive issue.”

The team received support from US company Delve, which has designed the Badger Shield, a simple, scalable and safe solution. The design is open-source and free to use. A charity offered the team funding for an initial batch of raw materials for the shields - clear polyethylene film, elastic and foam.

“Our team is made up of doctors, engineering designers and people from the Judge Business School, and our coaches are helping,” says Lucy.

Lucy Jung, one of the organisers of ShieldNHS
Lucy Jung, one of the organisers of ShieldNHS

“We have a Plan A and a Plan B. In Plan A, we are talking to the manufacturers who can make the shields but they need time to get set up. In Plan B, having ready-to-assemble parts, volunteers assemble shields in their homes which are collected for quality management. If Plan A is working nationally and we have Plan B in every region, everyone can have a shield.

“Getting hold of the materials is challenging but we have an amazing funder. We are getting materials sent to London and are doing a controlled test run with design engineers from our connections at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College. The concept is that each volunteer makes 200 shields a day.

“We are not making any profit in any form, everyone is a volunteer and nobody is being paid apart from the material manufacturers,” says Lucy. “We have to move quickly. We are talking with Addenbrooke’s and Papworth hospitals and supplied 2,000 units yesterday (March 31).”

Lucy says time is the main issue as they try to help frontline staff desperately in need of protective equipment. The next step is to establish if production is scalable and then determine the logistics of sourcing materials and transporting the shields.

She says: “There’s lots of brainstorming going on and there is potential to have some type of crowdfunding system.”

If you are a manufacturer or supplier of plastic film, foam or elastic, and think you can help, complete the form at bit.ly/makeshields.

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