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Life-Saving Breathing Aid Delivered to NHS Hospitals

Breathing aids developed by UCL, UCLH and Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains has now been delivered to NHS hospitals in the United Kingdom.

The UCL-Ventura breathing aid, known as a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device, developed by UCL, UCLH and Mercedes-AMG HPP has been deployed to treat COVID-19 patients in hospitals across the UK.

CPAP devices aim to allow patients to breathe more easily. The engineers at UCL and HPP in Brixworth worked round-the-clock to reverse engineer a device that could be manufactured rapidly - and it took less than 100 hours, from the initial meeting, to produce the first device.

The UCL-Ventura underwent patient evaluations at UCLH and across sister hospitals in London and are now being delivered to hospitals across the UK. NHS staff can request the devices for their hospitals at no cost to assist management of patients during possible future surges.

After the Government ordered up to 10,000 CPAP devices, they were manufactured at the Mercedes-AMG HPP technology centre in Brixworth.

Forty machines normally used to produce F1 pistons and turbochargers were used for producing the CPAP devices and the entire Brixworth facilities was repurposed to meet the demand.

Andy Cowell, Managing Director of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains, said: "It is exceptionally pleasing to see that the flow devices swiftly engineered and produced in volume here at Brixworth are helping patients around the UK. The supply of devices to the local Northampton hospital engendered a great sense of pride for the whole team."

All the details required to make the device have been made available for manufacturers to download at no cost. The licensing package not only includes the designs, but also specifies materials, tools and kit used in the rapid prototyping process.

Since it was made available, there have been over 3,100 requests for the designs. Over 1,800 teams have been approved and had the designs shared, across 105 countries.

Professor Rebecca Shipley, Director of UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering, said: "Our focus from the beginning has been to get these devices to the NHS frontline when they are needed. My thanks go to the amazing army of volunteers who have worked tirelessly to make this happen at such a fast pace, and in particular G-TEM who have been pivotal in enabling quick delivery to hospitals across the NHS. The UCL-Ventura story is a fantastic example of what can be achieved when the engineering, manufacturing and healthcare sectors work together."

UCLH critical care consultant Professor Mervyn Singer (UCL Medicine) said: "We have seen the UCL-Ventura help hundreds of patients with Covid-19 breathe more easily. Deployed across the NHS hospital network, this device will help to save lives by ensuring that ventilators, a precious resource, are used only for the most severely ill. We and others are finding that a significant proportion of patients treated with CPAP can avoid mechanical ventilation and recover more quickly as a result. The latest version of the device is much more oxygen efficient - in most patients, it requires little more oxygen than a ventilator. This is important, given there were concerns over oxygen supplies in some hospitals treating Covid-19 patients."

Professor Tim Baker (UCL Mechanical Engineering) said: "In creating these devices, speed was of the utmost importance. We needed to make sure that they could be deployed before Covid-19 admissions peaked. To achieve this, volunteers have been working through the night to procure, assemble and deliver the kits that accompany the CPAP. It is thanks to them that the UCL-Ventura, a low-flow CPAP device, is being distributed rapidly to hospitals across the country."