Despite an announcement more than two weeks ago, James Dyson’s business has still not had the go-ahead to produce ventilators to help the NHS during the coronavirus.
A government official had admitted that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has still not given approval to big-name UK engineering companies to produce the life-saving equipment.
The Department of Health said this week it was ‘currently updating’ the specification for the machinery, meaning that manufacturers are yet to reach the requirements, with the government expected to shortlist the potential manufacturers this week.
It comes as the government scrapped plans to buy a device called BlueSky, which was created by another consortium also involving Formula One teams.
A spokesman for the Cabinet Office, which is co-ordinating ventilator orders, said: ‘We are no longer supporting the production of the BlueSky device following a reassessment of the product’s viability in light of the ever-developing picture around what is needed to most effectively treat COVID-19.’
He added: ‘We are continuing to work at unprecedented speed with a number of other manufacturers to scale-up UK production of ventilators.’
A government spokesperson said the rethink was essential for patient safety and effectiveness in tackling coronavirus.
‘Designing and manufacturing a ventilator from scratch usually takes years, but in the four weeks since Ventilator Challenge was launched, we have made rapid progress, with new designs currently being tested by clinicians to ensure they meet the necessary standards for patient safety and effectiveness of treatment.’
It comes as the Financial Times reports a Whitehall source insisting that there was adequate capacity so there is no longer such demand.
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Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the UK needs about 18,000 of the machines when the virus peaks in the UK, down from an original estimate of 30,000.
The country currently has about 10,000 ventilators after increases in domestic supply.
A number of ParaPac devices, made by Smiths Medical, have been sent to wards across the UK in the last few days.
Production of the model, which was already being built before the Covid-19 outbreak, was scaled up by involving firms including Rolls-Royce, Airbus, and BAE Systems.
Hundreds of ventilators have been donated from other countries, including 60 donated free of charge by the German army.
Despite James Dyson’s announcement last month that the business were making 10,000 products, the government said no orders had been made.