Deal secured for future of Northumberland PPE factory

An innovative NHS factory producing vital PPE is now investing in the local community.

Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 3:50 pm
A deal has been struck for the Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust's PPE site in Seaton Delaval.

The factory, which was officially opened by the Prime Minister, has taken another bold step forward after an agreement was made to purchase the manufacturing unit where it’s based – in doing so securing its long term future.

The unique project was set up to make personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff across the UK, bringing manufacturing back to the local area, boosting supply during the Covid-19 pandemic and also providing an uplift to the local economy.

The factory produces isolation gowns, scrubs, theatre hoods, masks, theatre hats and pillows at a 40,000sq/m site in Seaton Delaval.

Officials have now finalised a new deal to buy the space so the operation can grow and become even more ambitious.

It has also created a much more resilient supply chain and created more than 60 jobs for local people, with the deal providing an even longer-term boost by creating an initial ten apprenticeships.

Sir James Mackey, chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The manufacturing hub has gone from strength to strength and been a vital tool for the NHS during the pandemic.

"This is another big step for the trust and the region because we’re all committed to working closely so everyone can benefit from this innovative venture.

“This investment marks the next step in the project and will allow us to keep producing high-quality PPE, securing the supply chain and demonstrating that our patients and staff are always at the core of all we do.

“It’s also vitally important that we can help to create employment and learning opportunities for local people in our own local communities.

"This is especially relevant in the current climate as we try and help the local economy get back on its feet.

“Now more than ever, health and social care providers need to be self-sufficient in procuring equipment – we are offering a solution that allows them to become non-reliant on international suppliers.

“I’m immensely proud of this development and would like to thank everyone involved in this amazing team.”

Sarah Rose, acting divisional director at the factory added: “This has been such a fantastic opportunity to bring together local machinists, factory workers and seamstresses on a huge scale and this new investment is a real signal of our intent.

“During the pandemic our hard working NHS teams have gone above and beyond to protect the public and this is our way of giving something back – by ensuring that they have access to the life saving PPE that they deserve.

“The fact that we are creating jobs and providing a cash injection for the local economy in the process is an added benefit for all.”

The factory was endorsed and officially opened by Prime Minister the Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP on a visit to the North East.

Heather Mills, the owner of Plant Based Valley, originally leased the site to the NHS in the midst of the Covid pandemic outbreak in order to support the production of personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff across the UK.