Ventilator Challenge

In March 2020 as part of the UK Government’s response to the pandemic and the potential heightened requirement of ventilators and associated medical devices, MD-TEC became the designated testing facility for the UK Government’s Ventilator Challenge. To address the national shortage of much needed ventilators, a consortium of UK industrial, technology and engineering businesses from the aerospace, automotive and medical sectors, came together to produce medical ventilators in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. In collaboration with the Cabinet Office, the MHRA and the partners from the sectors listed above, the NIHR Trauma MIC and MD-TEC (Medical Devices Testing & Evaluation Centre) Team contributed to the investigation of a range of novel ventilator design options to meet a high-level specification for a Rapidly Manufactured Ventilator System.

As part of the Ventilator Challenge the Team initially contributed to the manufacturing specifications for ventilators, CPAP systems and syringe drivers. Over a four month period, 50 prototypes of 12 novel ventilators, CPAP systems and non-invasive ventilation systems were received. These devices underwent multiple rounds of safety and usability testing in MD-TEC’s Simulation Suite within 48 hours of receipt of the device. On occasions the testing was live streamed to the stakeholders involved providing instant feedback and recommendations to be included in the next iteration of the prototype. Formal written reports outlining findings and recommendations of the devices were also produced for the developers/manufacturers, Cabinet office and MHRA. This evidence fed into the review process informing the decisions regarding of which ventilators were carried forward into production and ultimately used in patient cares.

Part of the work on the approved ventilators including producing a ‘Quick Start Guide’ and training video for E-Learning for Health to support the training of medical staff on how to use the new device.

This agile and collaborative rapid response has saved lives during the coronavirus pandemic and has the capacity to proactively address future challenges as they present. MD-TEC has extended its offer of support internationally as a commitment to the ongoing battle against Covid-19. Related work continues, including testing of further new devices from other UK and European manufacturers for use in low and middle income countries (LMICs).