Family-run business producing body bags for London NHS sites
PUBLISHED: 12:08 11 May 2020 | UPDATED: 12:08 11 May 2020
A Norfolk plastic specialist has seen demand for its PPE dwindle – but has been drafted in to help supply body bags for the NHS.
Structure-flex is a Cromer-based family business, which works with flexible plastics to make the products including lorry side curtains.
However since lockdown the business has pivoted to do what it can to aid the NHS, and has been drafted in to help satisfy increasing demand for body bags.
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The 2,000 bags have been ordered by a private company, who are purchasing stock on behalf of NHS sites in London.
Managing director Paul Reeve said: “We started producing flexible face masks when lockdown began. We make about 1000 a week, but we have seen demand start to drop off. I think potentially it’s because we’re making the flexible full-face visors which aren’t needed as much as mouth shields.
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“We had an order for 2,000 body bags come in a few weeks ago. We’ve made high-specification body bags before for funeral directors, but never on the scale of what we’ve produced ultimately for the NHS. Although this was the first order I suspect we’ll have more - we’re filling a supply gap as these materials often come from China.”
Mr Reeve said that although the product is a poignant reminder of the current situation, it is getting staff back to work.
“Staff are faring fairly well despite the product,” Mr Reeve said. “Essentially it’s meant I can bring people out of furlough who otherwise would be relying on the government to pay their salaries.”
Around a third of the furloughed staff of 35 are now back at work, and are also working on their usual products of lorry curtains as well as the face shields.
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“We are still getting orders for the face visors in,” said Mr Reeve. “We’ve had orders from Hotel Chocolat for some of their factory workers, as well as kitchen manufacturers Crown Imperial which purchased some for their distribution team.
“We’ve also worked with Elite Care Cromer to supply some to the care workers who go out and help people in their homes. Our hope is that because the plastic is flexible it may be more comfortable for the wearer.”
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