The Nottingham firm made the front page of yesterday’s Mirror, which highlighted how it was struggling to gain traction with the authorities despite well-publicised issues with the supplies of PPE for healthcare staff.
Managing director Jon Tolley also appeared on ITV’s This Morning show to explain the firm’s frustration, and warned that he might be forced to sell his stocks of scarce raw materials for making the visors to Prime’s overseas partners if orders from UK officials did not materialise.
Precision Printing North in Sunderland also featured on the ITV News, with boss Gary Peeling stating: “Securing the raw materials in order to make them has probably been the number one challenge.
“The issue here is the requirement is daily, and it’s going to be ongoing and it’s likely to be for the next four to five months. Shipping things in from China obviously isn’t sustainable when we’re moving product through in these quantities.”
The coverage, part of a national outcry about the PPE situation for critical workers, has resulted in Prime being fast-tracked as an official supplier.
Tolley told Printweek: “It was a bit of whirlwind yesterday – one interview after another. I think it got the right attention as by lunchtime I had a call to say we are being fast-tracked.”
Prime’s visor carries the CE mark and is BSI certified to the new PPE regulation. Tolley said it had passed all the necessary compliance tests last night, with the final stage taking place this morning (23 April).
Tolley’s wife is an NHS critical care practitioner and the business quickly came up with the visor design in response to her experiences of the shortage of suitable PPE kit.
They now have a combined capacity to produce 500,000 visors a month.
Prime and its UK partners have already provided 350,000 visors free or at cost price to the NHS.
Prime has also taken on 30 temporary staff to help meet demand. Prime's aim is to supply NHS organisations at cost price. Sales to private enterprises are also available with pricing dependent on volume.
The ongoing issues around the supply of vital PPE materials continue to dominate the national news headlines.
Unite the union has called for a Cabinet-level minister to be given direct responsibility to mobilise and co-ordinate the ‘UK manufacturing army’ of businesses able to help produce much-needed PPE items and testing kits to help the country cope with the Covid-19 pandemic.