Fashion manufacturers are set to produce tens of thousands of scrubs and gowns for the NHS.
Jim and Anne Bender – whose business normally makes clothing in the Far East – have consolidated their efforts with two other clothing manufacturers to make use of spare factory capacity that has been left idle since the lockdown announcement last month.
Basildon NHS hospital trust has placed an order for 7,500 scrubs and Queen’s Hospital in Romford is taking an order for 500 scrubs this week with another 2,000 later on
Much of the manufacturing is being done at two factories in Barking and north London, but a significant number are being shipped in from the Far East.
Mrs Bender, who lives with husband Jim in Hutton Mount, Brentwood, said: “We think we will be providing 30,000 scrubs in the whole of April.
“And we are also importing 6,000. That’s without the gowns.
“We have been asked to make 25,000 gowns on top.”
Interventions from fashion manufactures appear significant given the warning from Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers in England, that the number of protective gowns available to front-line staff in parts of the country has become “critically low”.
Mrs Bender added: “We are doing this while we have no other business going to the factories.
“It all stopped abruptly. The big retailers closed their shops and had no more work for the factories.
“We make in the far east but we have friends and in collaboration with them we are using a couple of factories that were standing empty to make scrubs for the NHS.
“Some will be made in the UK and we are trying to procure some from the Far East.
“It’s all non profit and we are trying to do all this by still adhering to social distancing rules.
“We have been busy. It’s just what you do if you can.”