Stroud firm looks to future after £120m PPE contract
By Rob Freeman | 10th July 2020
A Stroud medical device company has secured its future after securing a £120million contract to supply half of the NHS supplies of face shields during the coronavirus pandemic.
Platform-14 went from employing eight people and losses of around £500,000 last year to taking on new staff - despite its main pain management work drying up.
And managing director Steve Dechan said the the contract was based on a proven track record with the NHS.
He said: "Over the last 18 months, we've designed a new Biowave pain management device which patients can use themselves.
"Then all of a sudden there was no orders coming in."
He continued: "The NHS asked us what we could supply in terms of PPE and they asked for 120 million units.
"We've got a lot of contacts in China and Hong Kong who we have known a long time and trust to supply the equipment and we said we could do it.
"There's a lot of rules about PPE. It's so important for it to be to the required standards and I wanted to modify it to make it more comfortable."
Modifications to the face shields included peel strips to prevent fogging for glass wearers and slightly larger strips across the forehead to make them more comfortable.
At its height, 19 containers a day have been delivered to the NHS and Platform-14 also supplied specialist protective aprons for staff at the Nightingale Hospital in London.
"Because we were approved suppliers, the Government knew us from handling NHS contracts," said Mr Dechan. "We have been handling these for years.
"Fifty per cent of all face shields in the UK come from us - the next best competitor was a US company that was £55million more expensive which would have all gone to American shareholders."
He continued: "We went through all the correct approval and required standards. We've delivered it on time, to the required standard and under budget."
It has all meant a very different outlook for the company as it looks to move on after the coronavirus pandemic.
"We were looking at having to lay off staff if the pandemic went on until September or October," said Mr Dechan.
"We've now had to take on an extra person to recruit around 25 extra people in Stroud to help process the orders and develop Biowave."
It has enabled the firm to build on its new Biowave pain management device with increased need for patients waiting for treatment due to delays caused by the pandemic.
The machine delivers high frequencies to target nerves in affected areas which stop pain being transmitted to the brain.
"It essentially is the same idea as a dentist numbing the nerves with an injection," said Mr Dechan. "It's vital for so many people.
"That's the best thing out of all of this, having worked on this device for two years, it won't all go to nothing. The PPE has allowed us to complete that.
"The priority now is getting it out to the NHS."
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