Mersey medical firm switches production to join COVID-19 battle

St Helens-based Inovus Medical, which produces simulators for teaching surgeons, is now manufacturing vital parts for ventilators and face visors for frontline medical staff. Tony McDonough reports

Coronavirus, virus, disease, infection, vaccine
Innovus Medical is joining the fight to defeat the deadly coronavirus

 

A specialist Merseyside healthcare business has joined the fight against the coronavirus epidemic by switching production to produce vital medical equipment.

St Helens-based Inovus Medical, which normally produces simulators for teaching surgeons, has switched production to making vital components for ventilators as well as face visors for frontline medical staff.

Dr Elliot Street and Jordan Van Flute founded Inovus Medical six years ago, after developing a medical simulator for training doctors in keyhole surgery. They marketed the product at a fraction of the cost of existing models and have attracted hundreds of orders from healthcare providers in the UK and abroad.

As the COVID-19 pandemic began to grip the UK throughout March, the multi award-winning business realised it was in a unique position to help the fight against the virus on multiple fronts.

They are now supplying parts for ventilators used to treat coronavirus patients that are being designed and manufactured by a consortium of seven Formula One teams supported by leading medical device manufacturers.

The project reached a stage of needing component parts manufactured in high volume. With these sorts of parts usually having turnaround times of months, and with an immediate demand for the lifesaving equipment, the consortium turned to a select group of manufacturing firms with the skills and equipment to enable large scale manufacturing with lightning fast turnaround.

Inovus has since been using its production level SLS 3D printer to manufacture components for the ventilators with the first parts being delivered to the consortium in under a week from receiving the call to help.

And, in response to repeated requests from existing customers, the firm’s skilled team has conceptualised and designed an emergency face visor to help meet the demand from healthcare staff. The visor utilises the same production level 3D printing technology as that used for the ventilator parts.

Inovus Medical
Inovus founders, Jordan Van Flute, left, and Dr Elliot Street

 

Within a week of the first request for face visors the team designed and tested the product, built technical files and other documentation to be in line with the necessary EU directives governing such products and installed a new manufacturing and assembly line in their St Helens based factory.

Demand for the visors has been overwhelming with thousands of visors already delivered to front line care givers across the UK.

Inovus Medical chief executive, Dr Elliot Street, said “The various products needed by front line healthcare staff in the fight against the pandemic have been well publicised over the last few weeks with two items (ventilators and PPE) becoming overnight household words.

“Having seen the overwhelming demand for these items and knowing the unique position we as a company are in to design and manufacture both, we took the decision to convert our manufacturing lines to aid in the production of ventilators and face visors in the hope that we can do our bit in the fight against COVID-19.”

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