Hundreds of new ventilators are being made in the UK every day and more are being sourced from abroad to try and tackle the Covid-19 crisis, Michael Gove has said.
There have been mounting concerns about whether the NHS will have enough ventilators during the peak of the pandemic, particularly as some patients fear they will not get the critical care they need.
The Cabinet Office minister told a daily Downing Street press conference that 300 devices arrived from China on Saturday and the Government is working with UK ventilator suppliers to manufacture existing and modified models in greater numbers.
He said: “The more ventilators, invasive and non-invasive, available to the NHS, the more patients get the care they need, when they need it.
“But the process of design, assembly, testing and manufacture does take time and we need to make sure that these devices are safe and their manufacture scaleable.”
Mr Gove said a team from University College London working with Mercedes-Benz has produced a new non-invasive respirator that has been clinically approved.
He said the device is vital in reducing the number of patients who eventually need to be intubated.
Mr Gove said: “They produced 250 yesterday, they will produce the same number today and tomorrow, rising to 1,000 a day next week.
“We are also increasing the capacity of the NHS to deploy invasive ventilation, we have been buying invasive ventilators from partners abroad including Germany and Switzerland.
“And today 300 new ventilators arrived from China.”
A consortium of UK industrial, technology and engineering businesses, known as the Ventilator Challenge, have joined forces to produce ventilators for the NHS.
Mr Gove, who said the Government is also working with UK ventilator suppliers to manufacture existing and modified models, said: “The new models that have been scaled up as part of the Ventilator Challenge will be coming on production lines this week.
“More are coming into production in the coming weeks, subject to safety and regulatory approvals, as part of the Prime Minister’s call to manufacturers to scale up production.”
He added that first devices ordered from Oxford-based medical devices company Penlon will begin arriving in hospitals next week and be delivered by the Ministry of Defence.
He also said the first devices from Smiths Group had been received at a military logistics hub in Shropshire.
Mr Gove said: “The initial dispatch is the result of scaled up manufacturing of an existing mechanical ventilator design and I am grateful for the efforts of an industry consortium including GKN Aerospace and Rolls-Royce.
“These ventilators will be distributed to hospitals next week.”