A call to arms was today issued to the region’s army of manufacturers and small businesses to join the Covid-19 fight by manufacturing or donating protective clothing for carers and other frontline workers.
The West Midlands is the biggest regional hotspot for coronavirus outside London.
Social care staff as well as other public service workers such as refuse collectors and undertakers across the region are struggling to find enough medical grade Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to keep them and vulnerable clients safe from the coronavirus.
So manufacturing firms which already make equipment or those which can turn their hand to making medical grade masks, gloves, goggles, aprons or other PPE are being asked to come forward with help.
Businesses like Jaguar Land Rover have already started production of plastic visors, goggles and other PEE, but it is thought there is more untapped potential in the region.
Firms with unused stocks of PPE, from nail salons to building companies, are also being urged to come forward.
The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has joined forces with local councils and business groups, including the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, to issue the rallying call for companies who can help tackle the shortage.
The Government has secured bulk orders of PPE for the NHS and hospitals, but equipment is in short supply to public service workers such as social care staff.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “We all know how vital PPE is in protecting our frontline staff who are working tremendously hard to keep the West Midlands safe.
“Supplies of PPE are getting through to the NHS frontline which is fantastic, but we know there is a shortage for other staff carrying out vital roles in the wider community, particularly care workers.
“That is why today the WMCA has launched this call to arms to businesses to help ensure that all frontline workers in the West Midlands have access to adequate PPE.
“This campaign is not about diverting supplies which are already there, but about unearthing the extra capacity in our region. We have many brilliant small and medium manufacturers in the West Midlands who have already gone above and beyond throughout this crisis, and I know they will rise to the challenge again and help in this hour of need.”
Paul Faulkner, chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said: “The message to businesses across the region is simple - if you can help boost the supply of PPE for those workers who need it right now, then please do.
“This is an opportunity for businesses to make a real and tangible difference in the fight against coronavirus. We will get through this unprecedented period by pulling together.”
Cllr Paulette Hamilton, Birmingham City Council cabinet member for health and social care added: “Care staff and wider front-line staff have been absolutely amazing during these unprecedented times, but we need to ensure they have the right protective equipment, which we all know is in a national shortage.
“Many local authorities, including Birmingham, have set up ways for businesses to donate spare equipment so I’m really pleased to see this call for the manufacture of PPE in addition to donations. I’ve been so impressed with the way we are all coming together to support our front-line staff so I’m sure there any many businesses out there that are only too happy to help.”
The Mayor has written to business organisations and is asking them to pass on the call to their members and networks as a matter of urgency.
To register your interest email firstname.lastname@example.org with your company details.
These vital supplies can then, as required, be procured and allocated by local authorities and private community-based organisations who support and care for vulnerable and unwell people across the West Midlands.
Items needed include: Type IIR/FFP2/FFP3 Facemasks, disposable sleeveless aprons, disposable aprons with sleeves, disposable Nitrile gloves, goggles and hand sanitiser.