Frontline medical staff in Manchester design ‘breakthrough’ PPE respirator

NHS Manchester University

Frontline medical staff in Manchester have developed an innovative PPE respirator that could provide a breakthrough in the fight against coronavirus (COVID-19).

Staff in the Intensive Care Unit at Wythenshawe Hospital, which is part of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT), have developed Bubble PAPR – a Powered Air-Purifying Respirator (PAPR) – to keep healthcare workers safe during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

According to a statement on the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust website, the “simple and low-cost device” consists of a reusable collar that sits around the neck and a single-use plastic hood that can be easily recycled.

The collar contains a fan to draw in air through a virus filter and deliver a cooling airflow around the face.

Bubble PAPR has been designed to be compatible with stringent infection control practices and be comfortable to wear for the duration of a shift in the ICU, or other high-risk areas. The wearer’s face is clearly visible, which will improve critical communication between staff and vastly improving the patient experience.

Dr Brendan McGrath – Intensive Care Consultant at Wythenshawe Hospital – has been the clinical lead through the development and testing process. He said: “We have tested Bubble PAPR and we know it performs its primary function which is to protect staff against inhalation of airborne viruses.

“We have also now tested it in the simulated clinical environment.

“The reaction from staff has been overwhelmingly positive: they saw something that was not restrictive on their face, that allowed them to communicate with their colleagues, that was pleasant to wear and will allow them to interact with their patients.”

The Bubble PAPR is part of an ongoing collaboration between MFT, Designing Science and The University of Manchester.

The collaboration will identify unmet clinical needs and work collaboratively to develop new solutions.

A patent has been filed and the development team are now working with manufacturing partners to produce Bubble PAPR in large volumes and signing up distribution partners.

Patrick Hall – MD of Designing Science – added:

“Most current PAPRs are re-purposed industrial devices, not designed for clinical use and expensive. We have taken a user centred design approach to engineer and develop the Bubble PAPR to be as simple as possible while meeting key functional and ergonomic requirements. This means it can be easily and cheaply manufactured in large volumes so it can be made available right across the healthcare system, wherever clinical and support staff are interacting with patients who have confirmed or suspected COVID-19 or other serious infections.”

Dr Glen Cooper – Program Director for Mechanical Engineering Design in the School of Engineering at The University of Manchester – said: “The Bubble PAPR is both ergonomically and mechanically the right product to meet the need to protect NHS staff during the COVID crisis and beyond.”

The aim is to have Bubble PAPR widely available for front line staff before the end of 2020.

You can find more information via the MFT website here.


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