“The AHSN NENC were invaluable to our bid for the PPE Government contract. They were able to get our name to the right people and assisted in building our profile as an existing and trusted supplier within the NHS. Whenever an opportunity arose, the AHSN NENC, Innovation SuperNetwork and North East LEP were advocates of ours, and we couldn’t have done it without them.”
Alex Duthie, UK Sales Director, Dräger
Overview

Early in 2020 at the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic when it was clear there was a global shortage of Personal and Protective Equipment (PPE), the UK Government issued an urgent procurement call for PPE.

The Innovation SuperNetwork (a North East England network of networks) contacted Dräger after learning they were keen to open a PPE manufacturing plant in response to the growing demand for respiratory masks during the pandemic. The Innovation SuperNetwork then introduced the local Dräger team to the Academic Health Science Network North East North Cumbria (AHSN NENC), which is a key member of NHS England’s regional emergency response procurement cell.

The AHSN NENC worked closely with Dräger to develop a proposal around its manufacturing plans, which were pitched to the regional and national leads involved in the NHS procurement cell. Dräger needed to ascertain where to concentrate their offer around mask production. Using their networks, AHSN NENC were able to establish the model and type of mask required by the NHS. The AHSN NENC also co-ordinated with NHS Trusts across the region to provide samples of Dräger’s products, which received positive responses from the frontline.

Consequently, Dräger were successful in winning a multimillion-pound contract and have set up a manufacturing facility near Gateshead in the North East of England, creating 40 jobs.

Challenge/problem identified

At the start of the coronavirus pandemic there was a drastic shortage of PPE such as masks for healthcare professionals. This was an international problem and Dräger recognised the need to urgently upscale production in order to meet demand, which was increasing rapidly and was estimated to remain high for years to come.

How is the AHSN involved?

The AHSN NENC worked with the team at Dräger to develop a proposal around its manufacturing plans, which were pitched to the regional and national leads involved in the NHS procurement cell. Dräger needed to ascertain where to concentrate their offer around mask production. AHSN NENC were able to use their networks to establish the model and type of mask required by the NHS.

In addition, the AHSN NENC also co-ordinated with NHS Trusts across the region to provide samples of Dräger’s products, which received positive responses from the frontline ensuring Dräger knew there would be demand for this type of mask.

The reputation of being the ‘go to’ organisation within the region for working with the healthcare system as well as the knowledge and contacts meant the AHSN NENC played a key part in bringing regional infrastructure together.

Impacts/outcomes of AHSN involvement

The new development has created an additional 40 new jobs.

The contract was for the production and supply of 50 million FFP3 masks to be delivered by the end of 2021. Dräger are already supplying the NHS with masks from this order. The value of the contract was approximately £90 million.

The new development ensures there is continuous production of respiratory protection masks so frontline workers have as much protection as possible during the pandemic without supply chain issues.

Start and end dates:

Summer 2020 –  January 2021.

Contacts:

Project contact:

Dr Stephen Lynn, Business Manager, AHSN NENC

E: Stephen.Lynn@ahsn-nenc.org.uk

Media contact:

Donna Smith, AHSN NENC Communications Manager

E: Donna.smith@ahsn-nenc.org.uk