The Government has issued a call for urgent support from businesses to aid its ramped-up response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a post on its website the Government said it was looking for businesses from a wide spectrum of industries to assist in a number of key areas, including:

  • medical testing equipment and medical equipment design
  • protective equipment for healthcare workers, such as masks, gowns and sanitiser
  • hotel rooms
  • transport and logistics, for moving goods or people
  • manufacturing equipment
  • warehouse or office space, for medical use or storage
  • expertise or support on IT, manufacturing, construction, project management, procurement, engineering or communications
  • social care or childcare

Offers of support can be made at

Several companies across Cumbria have already responded to the desperate plea.

They include Lindal-based luxury fragrance product manufacturers Wax Lyrical – which is producing hand and surface sanitisers to the NHS, care homes, hospices and pharmacies.

Both Sellafield Limited and TSP Engineering have donated face masks, disposable respirators and protective clothing.

Longtown-based Wm Armstrong is one of over 700 logistics businesses who have joined forces to put their combined fleet of vehicles at the Government’s disposal during the virus crisis.

Barrow, Flimby and Cleator Moor-based Forth Engineering is building a prototype ventilator to aid the NHS and is also designing remotely operated disinfecting robots.

And Cockermouth’s James Walker – which already works with the NHS supply chain to make parts for ventilators and related equipment – is aiding the Ventilator Challenge UK consortium by designing and manufacturing components.

Earlier this week the consortium received an order to manufacture 10,000 ventilators for the NHS – and said it had the capacity to produce more if needed. The consortium includes major Cumbrian employers BAE Systems and Siemens – although both confirmed their county workforces were not involved in the project.

Others, including Dyson, have also received orders to boost the number of ventilators available to the NHS – which at presents stands at 8,000.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents healthcare trusts, said the need for a “significant increase” in the number of ventilators was pressing.

“We are in a marathon, not a sprint, and the extra capacity will arrive later in the race, so we know there will be pressure over the next few weeks,” he said.

“National leaders tell us that there will be sufficient capacity but there can obviously be no guarantees that there won't be gaps in certain places at certain points.

“If those gaps occur trust leaders know that their role is to do the best they can with the resources they already have.

“It would be helpful if national NHS leaders and the Government shared more of the detail on how they see ventilator capacity growing, what the constraints for the immediate next few weeks are likely to be, and how these constraints will be managed.”