Lives will be saved in India thanks to heroes from a Gloucestershire engineering firm

We know Covid-19 caused untold harm in the UK and now ravages India on an unimaginable scale – but in Gloucester a quiet army of volunteers has been working tirelessly throughout making vital lifesaving equipment.

By Andrew Merrell  |  Published

When G-TEKT Europe Manufacturing asked if any staff would volunteer to help build and distribute ventilators to help Covid-19 patients the response was astonishing – 450 stepped forward.

The Gloucester-headquartered branch of Japanese-owned giant G-TEM designs and makes parts for marques including Toyota, Honda, Land Rover and BMW, but the pandemic meant all 600-plus of its staff were furloughed.

Then came a call from the University College London asking if the engineering firm could re-engineer a valve for a ventilator – an old design being upgraded, which worked, was licensed and would go straight into action.

What started as a small project quickly grew and saw the Gloucester engineering plant manufacturing and distributing whole ventilator kits direct to hospitals UK-wide.

And of late, as the world’s attention has turned to India, so too has that of the near secret Gloucester production line.

‘We put a call out to staff to see if anyone could help initially. We were not sure what to expect. We had 450 step forward. The rest of were either vulnerable or shielding,’ said Nick Thomas, a director of the Brockworth business.

‘We set up a medical clean room manufacturing facility at our site and began. We have had staff delivering direct into hospital ICUs – not to the door – right into the units. Which is a lot of ask of anyone. But they just did it because they wanted to help.

‘We had staff working night shifts and right through bank holiday weekends and all through last Easter.

‘Towards October last year we hit the 10,000 units the government needed.

‘Since then we have supplied Mexico, Peru, Paraguay and other countries – not huge quantities, as everything we make is owned by the Department of Health and it has to be careful about releasing stock.

‘Of late attention has really turned to overseas and we had a call from the Department of Health saying it needed 100 units for India and then following that, another 60 units.’

All of that order has now been delivered.

‘At one point we have had 60 staff per shift running 24-seven. We could not have asked for more from everyone. We wanted to help and have been able to,’ said Mr Thomas.

SoGlos reported back in February how the firm has also been sourcing PPE and other supplies and delivering that to the NHS and surgeries in Gloucestershire and beyond (Read that story here).

By Andrew Merrell

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