Team responds to UK Government’s ventilator challenge to treat coronavirus patients
On March 13th, with the UK in lockdown, Team Consulting was asked by the UK Government to join the UK Ventilator Challenge. Consulting companies, manufacturers and suppliers worked collaboratively to respond to this call. It was predicted that the UK would need more than 30,000 additional ventilators to help support COVID-19 patients. Team Consulting assembled a group of engineers (including mechanical, software, materials and electronics), human factors specialists, industrial designers and project managers to meet this important call to action.
Getting a medical device to market takes years. In six weeks, we designed EVA – the Emergency Ventilator Apparatus.
Iain Ansell, Head of Surgical, stated the main objective: “From the outset, EVA has been designed to meet government specifications. To allow the fastest possible delivery and to minimise supply chain risk, we based our design on an established ventilator made in the UK by Diamedica Ltd. The ventilator needed to be appropriate for mass manufacture and built from components which could be readily acquired, avoiding competition for materials and components commonly used in other ventilators. During that time, the specification continued to evolve (in response to clinicians’ feedback on their experiences treating COVID-19 patients) and throughout the 6-week project, the EVA design was iterated to keep up with those changes.”
A primary focus was to ensure that EVA would be usable on a COVID-19 ward allowing healthcare professionals to easily use the device in difficult conditions. Julian Dixon, Director of Human Factors, summed up Team’s method of working: “We all worked together as a cohesive team, to reach a rich understanding of how EVA would and should be used. To develop a user interface that could be rapidly manufactured while keeping things as simple as possible for EVA’s users.”
“On behalf of the Prime Minister and my Cabinet colleagues, I would like to pass on our sincere thanks for the many long hours, day and night, you have dedicated to designing and building these critically important devices.”
Michael Gove, Cabinet Office
Team worked closely with government, the MHRA, trusted suppliers, regulatory advisors, clinical advisors and manufacturers to create EVA. Amongst multiple parallel ventilator developments, EVA’s focus was making ventilation available under limited resources. EVA achieves this by being powered purely on Oxygen (negating the need for additional air supplies and using Oxygen at low flow rates). The EVA devices were tested extensively in Team’s labs and underwent multiple stages of evaluation at the Medical Devices Testing and Evaluation Centre (MD-TEC) in Birmingham.
On April 20th, 5 weeks after the government’s challenge, EVA went into pilot production at Cogent Technology Ltd, our specialist medical device manufacturing partner. Volume manufacture of EVA was possible, and Cogent were ideally placed to meet potential demand.
In the same period, lockdown has managed to stem the growth of COVID across the world, and as the world learns more about the treatment of COVID-19 patients, the need for ventilators has changed. As of April 28th, the final regulatory submission and ramp up to full manufacture was put on hold by the UK Government. Steve Blatcher, Team’s Product Lead for EVA, stated: “Undaunted by the scale of the challenge the project team, supported by their families, has literally worked day and night to respond to this challenge. The project has truly been an example of selfless determination, camaraderie and amazing ingenuity. Although EVA is paused, she is absolutely ready to move forward and save lives if required.”
“With our 30 years of expertise working in medical devices, we are proud to have been part of the effort to save lives and come up with solutions to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. Team’s vision is to change lives for the better, and we were honoured to play our part in supporting the fight against this virus. We are unbelievably proud of our colleagues who put personal considerations aside and worked non-stop to get EVA ready in time against all the odds.” Dan Flicos, CEO.
“From over 5,000 offers of support received by the government, your design was picked out by an expert panel made up of clinicians, regulators and other technical professionals. On behalf of the Prime Minister and my Cabinet colleagues, I would like to pass on our sincere thanks for the many long hours, day and night, you have dedicated to designing and building these critically important devices.” Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office.