In the media

Sky News, Ian King Live - The UK Ventilator Challenge: A fantastic testament to what UK industry can achieve

Sky News Live

20 August 2020


PA's Chief Innovation Officer, Frazer Bennett is interviewed on Sky News' Ian King Live, to talk about what happened when the UK Government asked PA to lead one of the largest mobilisations of innovation, science and engineering since the Second World War.

Watch Frazer tell the story of the incredible industry achievement of the UK Ventilator Challenge below.

Commenting on PA's work on the UK Ventilator Challenge, Frazer says:

"These were unprecedented times; here we were in early March watching the pictures on Sky News of the healthcare system in Italy on its knees in Lombardy and thinking this is a pandemic that is coming in our direction. It was on that basis that the call from the government came.

"We needed to massively compress the timescales designing and delivering these very complicated medical devices, and that would require the skills of designers, engineers, manufacturing experts, logistics and supply chain and regulators and so on. So, the first thing we needed to do was to call upon the very best from across the whole of the UK to stand up to this mission."

"That's where we were, but of course in four weeks we had the first device approved and in use in hospitals, and just two weeks after that the first device was saving lives.

"We went on from manufacturing in small numbers per week, by the end of the programme we were manufacturing at 400 per day, and that is a fantastic testament to what UK industry has been able to achieve."

Frazer continues: "Across the UK, we had 7,500 people working on this ventilator challenge in some aspect or other, and we had over fifty companies from the very largest of UK manufacturing businesses, down to the most exquisite small design business, all contributing to this effort. That gives you a sense of scale."

"Then, every day ventilators were shipped to the right hospitals, to the right points in the country where they were most needed – and that in itself was a massive logistical challenge."

When asked whether, looking ahead, the UK is now better prepared for a potential second wave, Frazer replied:

"Absolutely, let's think about the legacy that we now leave. Firstly, we leave an estate of ventilators accessible to the NHS - approved medical devices that is five times larger than when we began. That means should a second wave occur, we have an insurance policy.

"Secondly, what we have is the UK infrastructure that we should be proud of and invest in further and the ability to innovate and operate at scale. We were leading the world in our response, and I think that is another legacy that this challenge evidences and leaves for the UK."

Read the full story of PA's role in the UK Ventilator Challenge and watch the video.

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