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IMechE’s response to Government’s call for increased ventilators

25 March, 2020

Dr Helen Meese, vice chair of the Biomedical Division of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers commented recently on the Government’s call for more ventilators to be manufactured.

She explained that ventilation equipment, like all medical devices, is very strictly regulated to ensure patient safety: “We must be clear, that while many engineering companies and individuals have come forward to support this initiative, it will take several weeks if not months to ensure the right processes are in place to increase production of these precision parts.”

She added that quickest way for the UK to do this is for existing specialist manufacturers to share their drawings, specifications and expertise with non-medical manufacturers so they can make the parts to the right quality standards:

“While manufacturing can be ramped up, we must also remember that engineering will play an important role once these parts arrive at the NHS. Clinical engineers will be needed to oversee the process of installing these parts on the wards and even building some of the hand-held ventilators for use by clinical staff.”

Meese added that the NHS should look at placing senior clinical engineers in charge of coordinating the supply chain between device manufacturers and hospitals to ensure consistency and best practice is maintained: “The Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ Biomedical Engineering Division represents over 3000 engineers from across the healthcare engineering sector, many of whom have the expertise to assist in this process. It is in times of such crisis that engineers consistently play a leading role in ensuring the health and safety of our society.”

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