Morecambe Bay Hood a ‘real game-changer’ on COVID wards

A collaboration that includes engineers from BAE Systems’ submarines business has developed the Morecambe Bay Hood, a form of PPE for staff on COVID-19 wards.

Morecambe Bay Hood
Image: BAE Systems

Engineers from BAE Systems’ Submarines business, along with Lancaster-based Lancastle and staff from University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) developed the hood – from concept to Health and Safety Executive (HSE) approval – in 11-months.

The Morecambe Bay Hoods are set to be rolled out to hospital wards in Lancashire and South Cumbria over the next few weeks.

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“We’re proud that we’ve been able to donate some of our technical expertise and more than 2,000 hours of voluntary work to help our community and society overcome this technical challenge at a time of real need,” said Steve Timms, managing director of BAE Systems’ Submarines business. “Throughout the pandemic our employees have worked hard to help support a wide range of organisations and we’ll continue to play our part in helping where we can.”

The Morecambe Bay Hood is said to be less expensive, is fully cleanable, reusable and offers greater protection and comfort to healthcare workers as the hood is suitable for all face shapes and sizes.

The design – a full-face protective hood delivering a continuous stream of clean filtered air – reduces ‘fogging’ and aids improved communication and empathy between healthcare staff and patients because facial expressions can be seen more clearly, and lip-reading is easier.

Stuart Hosking-Durn, head of Resilience and Patient Flow for staff from University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT), said: “The dedication of our frontline workers has been instrumental in fighting COVID-19, but the Morecambe Bay Hood will be an absolute game-changer for us as we continue to care for patients, significantly improving comfort, durability and communication.

“The hoods could be rolled out more widely across the UK and could enable the NHS to treat patients with infectious diseases more safely.”

The BAE Systems human factors team conducted trials at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, where NHS personnel undertook simulations of critical activities. Their feedback on the concept and design was used to refine the final product which has been approved by the HSE and British Standards Institution.

The project began after Hosking-Durn and the UHMBT team approached BAE Systems with a request to help design an air-fed mask.

Working with the Innovation Agency NWC, a collaboration was formed to develop the upgraded PPE, which is equipped with an air manifold system with noise reducing features, a large visor and a protective sheath which extends over the chest and back. 3D printing technologies were used during prototyping to accelerate its development and reduce costs, and will continue to be used for production of the complex air manifold.

In a statement, Dr Sarah Price, consultant in Palliative Medicine at UHMBT, said: “One of the main things about the pandemic has been the coming together of people in an almost super-human effort to create something that makes a difference – the Morecambe Bay Hood is a brilliant example of that.

“It feels safe to wear the Morecambe Bay Hood. It’s comfortable, easily cleanable and it means that the whole of your face is on show for those interactions that really matter. These things are real game-changers.”