Orthotics makers at Oswestry’s specialist orthopaedic hospital have turned their skills to PPE – churning out hundreds of face visors to support care homes and hospices with the Covid-19 response.

The Orthotics Production and Manufacturing team at The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital (RJAH) usually make a wide range of devices, called orthoses, to help patients with mobility issues.

But those skills are now being utilised to make visors – a vital piece of Personal Protective Equipment for any frontline worker confronted with people who have a confirmed case of coronavirus. And rather than just supporting their colleagues at the Oswestry-based hospital, the team have also been supporting other care providers near and far.

Since production started last week, the team have manufactured and delivered more than 1,000 visors, for staff at Hope House Children’s Hospice in Oswestry, as well as care and nursing homes in the local area and elsewhere in the West Midlands, and as a far afield as Lancashire.

The face visors are being made from Polycarbonate, which has been cut to shape, using the team’s swing arm press cutting device, along with a bespoke, visor shaped ‘knife’, produced by one of the hospital’s Orthotic Research & Locomotor Assessment Unit (ORLAU) Technicians, Matthew Evans-Hardy.

Lance Jones, Orthotics Production and Manufacturing Manager at RJAH, said: “We’d seen a number of care homes and hospices on social media appealing for PPE, and we knew we’d be able to help by producing the face visors.

“It’s a real pleasure to help support our local community during these challenging times. I must say it was a real team effort between our team and our ORLAU colleagues, who created the knife we needed to produce the visors.

“Although our Orthotists are still seeing some patients and we’re still getting some orders through, as well as dealing with repairs, our workload has reduced compared to what it usually is, so it’s great that we’ve got the time to help others in need.

“So many businesses and organisations, both locally and nationally, are doing their bit to thank but also offer support to the NHS at this time, so as a team, it’s great that we’re able to make a difference and help in our own way.”

The hospital’s Orthotics Production and Manufacturing team manufacture orthotic devices in their dedicated workshop. These devices correct deformity and relieve discomfort for patients, with conditions such as diabetes, arthritis and cerebral palsy.

They work alongside the Trust’s Orthotists and Podiatrists from the Shropshire Orthopaedic Outreach Service (SOOS), who assess the patients’ needs, then the Production and Manufacturing team will manufacture the device using the most suitable materials for the patient.

The team is only one of five NHS in-house Production and Manufacturing departments in the country.

  • If you work in a care setting and you and your colleagues are in need of visors, please contact Lance Jones by telephoning 01691 404627 or emailing: lance.jones@nhs.net

Pictured: From left, Steve Bishton, Orthotics Technician Team Leader; and Josh Thomas, Orthotics Technician.