‘Doing our bit’ in response to Covid-19
In the midst of an urgent global health crisis, the NHS is facing an unthinkable situation, with delays on the procurement of adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for healthcare professionals on the front line in the fight against Covid-19. Hemingsworth have, for the past weeks, been working on solutions to improve the situation.
Taking action for front line staff
We have been working behind the scenes with a London Hospitals Trust and our main manufacturer – London-based Tower Garments – on the UK manufacture and direct supply of reusable impermeable gowns.
Like others, it took us some time and work to find out how we could help. Given a brief, it is very easy for us to develop and make any cut-and-sewn garment. The difficulty was getting access to the right technical specification and also connection into the supply chain, which is – for very good reason – protected in different ways. We have achieved that and are now in direct contact with local NHS procurement to supply reusable gowns to all London Hospital Trusts through one office and approaching other Trusts nation-wide.
Sourcing correct materials
The major practical challenge we have overcome is in sourcing the correct fabrics to meet the required specification for viral protection. Obviously, there is a global shortage of all necessary raw materials at the moment, due to the massive spike in demand.
Hemingsworth have been able to find a sustainable supply of the exact qualities specified, with a short lead time, along with a number of workable alternatives for and on behalf of the NHS Trusts.
Additionally, we [are] able to facilitate the supply of other cut-and-sewn garments essential for PPE, such as scrubs, through our extensive network of UK manufacturers, and help them to source raw materials.
Why reusable PPE?
Each gown we make can be used up to 50 times, making it massively more efficient than a single-use, disposable garment.
At the moment, our factory is in the first stages of making a sample gown in the correct materials for approval. The pattern is made by studying an existing garment (taken from final stages of use and completely sterilised for safety, so we are not taking essential PPE out of the system) and the technical brief we have received.
Once the sample passes approval we will be going straight into bulk production.
Adapting the supply chain
Obviously, it’s essential that PPE arrives with front line staff as quickly as possible, so we are changing our normal supply chain structure to make sure that happens, by ordering bulk quantities of materials in advance so that they are on hand in the UK immediately as required to minimise delay.
Keeping the lights on
Hemingsworth’s actions reflect our commitment to British manufacturing. Using this unique period to develop new products to help ‘keep the lights on’ financially for smaller, specialist factories is crucial to the future of the UK’s garment industry. We also remain open to guide or support any factory that needs assistance. All our manufacturing costs are passed on directly to the various parties and negotiated transparently for and on the behalf of the NHS and their bodies. Crucially, absolutely no mark-ups will be applied throughout the supply chain.
Beyond this, Hemingsworth will also be donating 50% of all sales until at least the end of June to facilitate the supply of more PPE for the NHS.
Roll of honour
Inspired by the efforts of our National Health Service and the care they are providing, without a second thought to our citizens, we are trying to do our bit to support them at this exceptional moment in our history.
Along the journey, there are many British brands and makers by whom we have also been inspired by. Our personal praise goes to Mackintosh, Turnbull & Asser, Burberry, Rolls Royce, Ventura Clothing, Community Clothing, Barbour, Emergency Designer Network, PH Designs, Make It British.
Thank you, NHS.
Stay safe. Stay home.
Matt & Henry