A new hood for medical staff developed on Lancashire has been hailed as a "real game-changer" by a hospital consultant.
The full-face protective hood, which has a large, clear visor and can be worn as personal protective equipment (PPE), has been designed free of charge.
Defence and aerospace company BAE Systems teamed up with Lancashire-based family-owned firm Lancastle to come up with what has become known as the "Morecambe Bay Hood".
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It comes after healthcare staff struggled throughout the pandemic with wearing uncomfortable PPE for hours during lengthy and difficult shifts.
Makers of the new hood said it delivers a continuous stream of clean filtered air, significantly reduces “fogging” and helps improve communication between staff and patients because facial expressions can be seen more clearly and lip-reading is easier.
The powered air-purifying respirators are due to be rolled out to hospital wards in Lancashire and South Cumbria over the coming weeks.
Dr Sarah Price, consultant in palliative medicine at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT), hailed the creations as feeling safe, comfortable and allowing better interactions with staff and patients.
She said: “One of the main things about the pandemic has been the coming together of people in an almost super-human effort to create something that makes a difference – the Morecambe Bay Hood is a brilliant example of that.
“That human ingenuity, the willpower to make something happen, the belief that you can do it and to have that on our doorstep where it makes a real impact for people who work in the local health service is fantastic.
“It feels safe to wear the Morecambe Bay Hood. It’s comfortable, easily cleanable and it means that the whole of your face is on show for those interactions that really matter. These things are real game-changers.”
The hood was developed after the trust approached BAE Systems with a request for help in designing a mask, after the company’s involvement in deploying 3D printed face shields for the trust at the beginning of the pandemic.
Stuart Hosking-Durn, head of resilience and patient flow for UHMBT, said: “The Morecambe Bay Hood will be an absolute game-changer for us as we continue to care for patients, significantly improving comfort, durability and communication.
“It’s a UK success story, with our thriving tech sector supporting our frontline workers as they help our country to emerge from the pandemic.
“The hoods could be rolled out more widely across the UK and could enable the NHS to treat patients with infectious diseases more safely.”
Steve Timms, managing director of BAE Systems’ submarines business, said: “We’re proud that we’ve been able to donate some of our technical expertise and more than 2,000 hours of voluntary work to help our community and society overcome this technical challenge at a time of real need.
“Throughout the pandemic our employees have worked hard to help support a wide range of organisations and we’ll continue to play our part in helping where we can.”
Neville Clokey, owner of Lancastle, said: “It’s fantastic to be part of the team that has designed the Morecambe Bay Hood.
“My wife is a former nurse and both of our children were born at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary so it has been great to be part of this. There’s a feeling of satisfaction in being able to give something back.”
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