The government has announced that more than 70 million face masks will be manufactured in the UK and delivered to frontline health and care workers following an agreement with a global technology company.
FFP2 and FFP3 masks will be produced over an 18-month period at Honeywell’s site in Newhouse, Scotland, with production set to begin in July.
Each month will see up to 4.5 million masks roll off the production line, ready for distribution to frontline NHS and social care workers.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “These 70 million masks are the result of our challenge to UK industry to scale-up domestic PPE manufacturing.
“This deal is brilliant news for the whole United Kingdom which will not only deliver the masks we need but create around 450 jobs in Newhouse, Scotland.
“I’m delighted to team up with Honeywell to open up another avenue to get millions of masks to the frontline and strengthen our ongoing response to the outbreak.
The announcement comes amid criticism over Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) shortages in the social care sector, which has led to cancelled care visits and providers being forced to source expensive equipment from private suppliers.
Boris Johnson said last week that he was “enraged” by the government’s inability to source and supply PPE to those who need it.
Days later, the Department of Health and Social Care announced that companies including Amazon and the Royal Mint have stepped in to help boost PPE supply.
Will Lange, president of Honeywell’s PPE business, said: “As a global leader of high quality personal protective equipment, Honeywell is committed to getting safety gear to those who need it most, including workers on the frontline in the fight against COVID-19.
“Our Newhouse facility has both the physical capacity and technical capabilities to launch a large-scale respirator production line in such a short timeframe, and we are proud of our teams who are bringing new manufacturing capabilities to the United Kingdom as quickly as possible to support the country’s response to the pandemic.”